Literary sci-fi packed with metaphor, this book itself is proof of its major theme, that the beauty of life makes it worth living, beyond mere survival. The story surrounds two major events: the death of a man, and that of the earth as we know it, with the characters and their storylines sprouting from each. The growth of the two main characters, Jeevan and Kirsten, left me as a reader pining for each to pursue something beyond ordinary, and as they did or did not, hoping more for discovery than even for survival. This is a book about truth, acting, living, and purpose. One of my only regrets in reading it is that I want to know more and the author left many questions unanswered and instead relentlessly pursued the same story. Some instances of prose, while beautiful, were verbose or seemingly unnecessary. Some dialogue and character descriptions were (perhaps intentionally) ambiguous.
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Read more: The Dollhouse Mirror: Poetry by Frank Watson
The Fine Line
Watson, in many of these poems, has found the fine line. The fine line I mean is the moment before, the blankness between living and dying, or the anticipation of doing in the state of nothing. This, I believe, is the ultimate goal of poetry. To find that mirror between reality and impossibility. Thus, “The Dollhouse Mirror” is an apt name for this collection.
For readers, I point you to poems 21, 22, 23, 38, and 39. Frank can better explain what I mean:
pausing in that
moment of light
between the steps
This book is a collection of micropoetry, in the style of various Japanese forms. I find that some of the poems are wordier than neccessary. I know this sounds silly when all the poems are only a handful of words in total. But consider the poem on page 15:
her robe is held
by a simple pin
but no one
will get past the sword
The first two stanzas could be simplified:
holds her robe
gets past the sword
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From a distance it looks as if
she is carrying a sack of rice,
but it’s a dead baby
she’ll place at our feet
with sad eyes, and
a ghost of a chance.
As if our magic, our special medicine
could heal its napalm burnt,
shrapnel infested body.
As if we can bring her baby
back for an encore smile or
one last lunge at a beating breast.
As if some Christian missionary
had told her of Lazarus risen,
shaking off both dirt and death.
As if we could pull-off
that kind of miracle,
As if seeing her
approach we could murmur
anything other than
We can’t. I wish we could.
Jesus, I pray we could.
I think a twist of metal is a spider.
I think a spider is the Antichrist.
I think the Antichrist sleeps at my feet.
I think I will live forever.
I find a note to myself written inside
a seashell: There are no odds.
I still believe in odds. I still believe in
ends. I think it’s odd I will live forever.
I learned to write watching mother
mow the lawn. Back and forth. Ruling
perfect lanes that her thin shadow marked.
She did this every week – cutting and marking.
In Japan, Ma is the essential space of nothingness—the empty, the void.
I’ve been thinking about the in-between
places lately like the space between
words and the silence between notes
and the summer between school years
and the nights between days and how
essential the in betweens are and what
I’m wondering is if death is the in between
space or if life is
I love Islam, I also love astronomy. Sisters—say a prayer for me.
The river’s mirror flows unseen, then seen,
breathes mist that honeys tongues and throats in song,
that jewels the threadbare waking mind. The green
and black quotidian grows twelvefold strong
and infinite. We see that everything
is river-fed: the roots and sources, veins
and arteries; the constant flux of wing
and fin and hoof; the spring and autumn rains
that fall on all, combined and recombined.
Our song is crying: jubilation, grief,
the sour-sweet of things alive. We find
ourselves, our place: a baby’s hand a leaf,
our genitals in flower, flying geese
the wrinkles in a father’s face at peace.