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Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite
Immune from Nothing I Can Think of by James F. Vickery is the poetic equivalent of the transformation that happens when a gifted architect applies his art to a grand old home with ‘good bones.’ Throughout this expertly crafted collection of 49 poems, mythological references, allusions to classical literature, and images from art blend in surprising ways with a contemporary social and personal landscape to produce harmonious, mind-expanding visions reflecting the best of old and new. “Aubade,” a prime example of this eclectic fusion, features as its title a medieval French monastic term meaning ‘first song to the new day,’ while the text overlays modern images upon a timeless natural landscape: “The sun rolls roughly/huge/across the plains/and gathers head and leaps/into the sky;/its redness stains/to gentle pink the white concrete/mazes, intricately drawn.”
While James F. Vickery’s poetic vision encourages us to see the familiar in new ways, his words simultaneously remind us to value that which reflects time-honored sensibilities. Although his astute verse is infused with a lifetime of travel to exotic locales, Vickery’s love of his local environs, devotion to his wife, and loyalty to friends and family welcome the reader to his world with a laconic charm that is at once beguiling and tinged with the particular nostalgia that encapsulates the American experience. From “Memo to Personnel Manager”: “Please hire me/even though, yes, I toke up in Denver’s alleys/intermittently. I smoke in part/because I always have./It’s what it means to be/a have, a place in time, a neighborhood.”
In addition to a visionary mindset and a unique gift for capturing the essence of various locales, James F. Vickery is harboring an inner classicist who emerges at the most delightfully opportune times to add an aura of erudite permanence. In “Myth or Text,” Vickery treats us to ancient and wise world view: “And all the gods are/born bloody, as are human/things, in broken furrows,/dropped diurnally,/like shattered light,/all over the world/as we rise from one/another to labor/and to die.”
Immune from Nothing I Can Think of by James F. Vickery is a witty, enduring sampler of time-honored poetic conventions combined in refreshing and fascinating ways to create a thoroughly engaging and forward-thinking personal vision. I love the mix.