Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Joe Numbers returns to the ode in his poetry anthology The Last Hello: 99 Odes to the Body. In this collection of poems, Numbers views the tangible beauty of human anatomy in a vision that is both playful and sensuous. These poems are tributes to an intense exploration of our corporeal self—an attempt at purification by extolling the flaws that make our bodies beautiful. From the glorious evolution of feet leaving behind impressions in the sand, the insistent marks of our lives, to the miracle of the womb in conceiving life, these are poems with soulful intellect that make the human body the very locus of the author’s musings. In this artistic exploration, you will never look at your body the same way again.
The human body used as his subject lends passion to Joe Numbers’s work spiritually and existentially. By examining the strength, uniqueness, and flaws of our form, he achieves a maximum degree of involvement for the reader by creating a strong sense of the self. As a trained architect, Joe Numbers builds the human body as the foundation and visual base of his poetry. A surreal feel to the quality of his lines offers truth in his impressions of human mortality. His Ode to the Mustache and Beard communicates the idea of vanity by creating a connection to a historical past where facial hair was a part of the virile manifesto. Consoling, agitating, and sometimes even unsettling, The Last Hello: 99 Odes to the Body is poetry for meditative reading that justifies our reason for existing.