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Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite
Sheen Francis Reyes has divided the poems that comprise Brave Vulnerable into three chapters, written over an eighteen-month period of her life: Coastal Cliff, Treacherous Mountain, and Misty Lake. The poetry is freestyle, as her subject demands, and they record her journey from passionate love, through doubt, abuse and the consequent break-up of the relationship, to her reluctance to let it, and him, go and move on with her life. They express the love, the scepticism, and the tragedy in a way that will resonate with anyone who has ever believed in “love is forever,” only to discover that, for him, it was only a passing attraction: getting what he wanted with words he knew any woman longs to hear.
Brave Vulnerable is, as far as I am aware, unique in that Sheen Francis Reyes uses “titles” to sum up the poem that comes before it, sometimes contriving to make them form the last line. Coastal Cliff tells of the joy of love, but even here there is a hint of trouble to come in To Silence A Woman. A few poems are written as conversations: “he said,” “she said,” as in She Turned Pink. Coastal Cliff ends with Wear Your Seat Belt: “Dammit, you’ve fallen in love; you’re vulnerable.” Treacherous Mountain recounts the break-up of the relationship: My Poison is frightening: “since when did verbal abuse, pushing, kicking, choking, smothering, become a recipe for shelter?” Misty Lake concerns grieving. Alarm Clock, just five lines, is my favourite. If you are ready for a poetic adventure, read Brave Vulnerable.