Man With Bombe Alaska


Man With Bombe Alaska
By Kate Behrens
Two Rivers Press – £9.99

I came across Kate Behrens whilst studying the Future Learn course, Literature and Mental Health. She read out a poem called ‘Madonna Blue,’ segments of which at the time, I found laden with profound imagery that struck me as having evolved from something other.

Something beyond explanation, beyond painful:

Misfits on the tufts, stiff,
ant-bitten, we listen
as our battery-driven
Bach Violin Concertos
lift off. We have ptsd
undiagnosed, pencils,
paints, the up-rush when
Madonna blue accedes
Bach’s warping phrases.

That the poetess read it out loud, goes some way in reinforcing the thinking that poems read aloud, really do take on a whole different meaning; especially when they’re merely read off the page. Reason being, I have read and re-read the above lines, but am yet to be transported to the place I originally was – upon first hearing it.

‘Misfits on the tufts’ and ‘Bach’s warping phrases’ still home in, although the remaining seven lines remain a little stilted and disjointed – regardless of imagery.

Suffice to say, of the fifty-two poems throughout Man With Bombe Alaska, there are one or two that do endeavour to ever so quickly, encapsulate the hit and miss and hit and remain scenario of transient, poetic power.

I use the word transient, simply because, although there are lines of astonishing beauty:

on spines of orange lit snow (‘Relief)

where insolent skies gleam eyeball-white (‘We Tread Forwards’)

a birthplace of crippled pines (‘Christmas Ghost’)

I don’t remember every failure (‘Selective Memory’)

Asymmetrical lines
feed the heart salt truths (‘Some Things I Know Tonight’)

they remain nevertheless, one off, and somewhat isolated. Isolated within their own contextualised emphasis of pin-prick brilliance.

It’s a mighty shame most of Man With Bombe Alaska’s poems aren’t surrounded and substantiated with much, much more of the same.

David Marx


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