James R. Sims
A Review of Michael S. Glaser's Being a Father.
Published by the Bunny and the Crocodile Press for Seasonings Press, August 2004
Seasonings Press, P .O. Box # 1, St. Mary's City, MD 20686, $12.95 + $2.00 postage and handling.
Poetry, as an art form, is difficult to discuss in the abstract. Attempting this is like the difference between talking about caressing someone you love and participating in the act itself; it demands evaluation and appraisal through the response of the participants.
So all I can do is to try to tell you how Michael Glaser’s words make me feel.
Being a Father disarms me, touches my heart, and deepens my understanding of parenthood through the freshness of the poetic experience.
I find the rhythm of Glaser's poetry deceptively simple. This easy movement, coupled with his use of vowels and consonants create a structural complexity that, for me as a vocalist, feels and tastes in my mouth as delicious and nourishing a dish as any that the great word-chefs serve.
But these are only the tools of the poet. The secret ingredient, the unknown variable is the heart of the poet.
There are experiences of exploring the heart of another person that can be frightening, cruel, maudlin, boring, repugnant, or downright dangerous. On the other hand the experience can create a transcendent recognition; an experience of empathetic bliss in the heart of the reader.
In order to facilitate this kind of connection, the experience must be honest, open and real. The invitation into the heart of another needs to be gentle. There has to be as much access to vulnerability as there is to joy. Then the response is free-flowing, be it tears or laughter.
In daylight, you draw unhurried lines,
give shape to forms you need to know.
When my gaze intrudes, you
stare back, as if saying, ? No?
We make our art differently; in early
morning hours I embrace the image of you
I draft with my pen, or stare at you
while you sleep until some inner warning
turns your back to me,
pulls your covers tight.
It is nothing so common as fright
enfolding you in its arms
but the need of a muse
yet to be known
guiding you toward
shapes, lines, and images
separately your own.
I am the father of a daughter. There are times that I believe within this experience lie the finest parts of myself that I have to offer; and times that I suspect contain my greatest failures.
As I accept the invitation Glaser extends to me in Being a Father, I feel that I am standing with my arm on his shoulder and gazing upon his children. As he reflects, I am drawn in and I hear the reverence and awe a father feels. I hear the frustration and powerlessness a father feels. I hear the deep longings and hope that a father feels expressed with eloquence and simplicity.
Then there is a moment of Grace for me: through Glaser's deft use of the elements of his craft and his intentional willingness to be honest and open, I am reassured that I am not alone. The possibility exists for me to offer forgiveness and understanding to all fathers, especially my own, and I can receive forgiveness.
The promises I made to my firstborn,
cradling his infant body and praying
that he might somehow learn to swim
in that noisy world we'd given him ...
What, really, could I see of him then?
His bald head, his wrinkled skin,
The cracks of my own failures
already gathering along the edges
of my dreams?
Nearing 50, I learned to face my own father,
to see his frail and fragile light,
the years of trying and failing
and trying again: to see that he is human,
and loves as best he can.
And I think of my own sons,
how we have struggled
and bent and turned,
and how, slowly, we have learned
the comfort of each embrace,
the blessing of each other's human face.
I come away from the poetry and somehow I feel as though I am a better person than I was before.
What more could one father ask of another?
What more could one father do for another?
Jim Sims is a vocal and instrumental musician. A composer and lyricist, he has recorded three collections of his work, Lovestar: Songs from the Heart; Metanoia: Time for Change; and most recently, Miles Tone.