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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Poems tell stories, share feelings, reflect on the most profound images of life. Perhaps one of the most poignant references (similes and metaphors) found in poetry is the imagery of eyes and sight. Many of us are familiar with the oft-repeated and rephrased line, “eyes are the window to the soul.” Poet Gideon Halpin in his book of poems, Flowers That Die, frequently references the power and translucency of eyes and the power of sight. I love his poem Eyes of a Grandmother: For Chloe, in which he writes, “oxidized, the colors/ laugh in joy/ the eyes of a grandmother/ telling children stories.” In another poem about eyes, To the Woman with Beautiful Eyes, the poet writes, “her eyes/ cut through/ as light in dark.” Each poem has a different connection to eyes and the power of sight, each poem is rich in metaphoric references to all that is part of life: “life is a garden/ in a greenhouse of glass/ time seems forever/ until it has passed.”
Gideon Halpin manipulates and weaves his magic through fragments of thoughts. There is no punctuation and no rhyming verse, but the poems are written, for the most part, in measured stanzas. Each poem is packed with insight into his vision of multiple aspects of life, sometimes reading like a poetic memoir. I have to admit, though, that I was hooked from the dedication page poem: “dedicated to the beings/ under relentless attach of demons/ who find rest in the written word.” Very profound, really apropos – isn’t that the key to what it means to be a writer? To exist under the ominous umbrella of the written word? I loved this collection of poems, Flowers That Die, which has lots of food (or should I say words) for thought.