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Reviewed by Gail Sosinsky Wickman for Readers' Favorite
George Rhoades's book "Along the Chisolm Trail and Other Poems" is divided into two parts. The first is devoted to verses exploring the cowboy ethic and the historical significance of the men who moved cattle. There are poems about real people, such as Billy the Kid and the James boys, and about legendary or fictional characters. Rhoades's love for the world of the cowboy is evident throughout. The first half of the book celebrates the grit and wisdom of the resourceful people who settled the land he writes about. The second half of the book is devoted to Rhoades's take on his own life or modern times. These poems are particularly enjoyable because they reveal the wisdom and humor of the writer. 'Love Is Blind' offers a twist that made me smile. 'Drink,' 'Casino,' 'First Day of School' and 'Chewin and Dippin' show a good understanding of human nature. There are bits of Rhoades's personal history, too, such as 'Gray Boy,' which talks about the German prisoners of war who worked on his grandmother's farm during World War II, or 'Section 23,' and 'Out Between the Beaver Creeks,' which show the way our personal places shape our lives.
"Along the Chisolm Trail and Other Poems" is not likely to appeal to poetry purists. The rhythm and rhyme schemes are not what appeal. The book should find an appreciative audience, however, among those who love or have roots in Texas or Oklahoma. The readers who enjoy the magazine Reminisce will enjoy the works in this book as well. The bookIf you have a personal stake in the geographical area Rhoades writes about, love cowboys or just appreciate poems that will help you remember what it was like way back when, you should enjoy "Along the Chisolm Trail and Other Poems".