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Songs for Mrs. Tree: poems in the wake of loss


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Eight powerful poems in different styles around a theme of loss and fighting against loss. A very quick read that one will pick up again.

    Each of these eight poems has its own style and potency. While a quick read, readers will turn to these poems again and again.

    To me the most intriguing one was busy, busy. busy (for three voices. These are the inner voice, the active voice, and the other voice(s), and are arranged in three columns in a very easy-to-read way. Osterhaus avoids confusion with this pattern; too often poets become so enamored of a pattern that readers have great difficulty and frustration when they encounter the poem. Gratefully, this is not the case here. This structure appears like a Greek drama. By that I am not saying anything negative, or implying that the poet envisions the poem in that way. The structure recalls a classical form, and there is nothing wrong with that.

  Cleansing the Temple covers the familiar ground of religious hypocrisy in a different way.

What religion is this

 that hooks the needy mind

bodes the wrath of hell

 that debates with only one side

that scalds with rage

           numbs with certitude

           blinds with hypocrisy

          dizzies with lies, and

         drains all power to resist?

What is this Contract with America,

and where are the signatures?

This is an explosive poem whose force literally bursts from the page in powerful writing.

helpful for readers to connect with the poems.

    That being said, it is and excellent short book of verse that is well-written and designed.

    Song for Mrs. Tree opens the book. It is a poignant lament for someone. One small criticism I have is that the person’s identity is a little too hidden. While I do not think it should be heavily-detailed, and the same for the affliction, certainly a few details would be useful in connecting readers more quickly and solidly to the book. However, this is certainly a book worth reading.


Reviewed by

I am a published poet with four books out there of my own, and two in collaboration with artist Carol Worthington-Levy. Additionally I have drafts of a novel and one short story in the process of being sent out.

Song for Mrs. Tree

About the author

I have written in many forms, from poetry and short stories to music, screenplays, nonfiction and a musical. This collection represents my earliest poems, addressed to a real person at a particular time and place. Later, I decided to share them with readers. B.A. in Theater, Binghamton University view profile

Published on December 02, 2020

2000 words

Contains mild explicit content ‚ö†ÔłŹ

Worked with a Reedsy professional ūüŹÜ

Genre: Poetry

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