Matt W. Miller (author); CLUB ICARUS; University of North Texas Press (Nonfiction: Poetry) 12.95 ISBN: 9781574415049
Byline: Christopher Soden
Matt W. Miller's new collection of poems, Club Icarus, is poignant, frank, and eloquent without resorting to dry, mannered rhetoric. His imagery is original and memorable, and it's earthy enough to be accessible and authentic. Numerous poems are based on anecdotes, wrenchingly honest and illuminated with just the right details to strike a nerve. In "Candy Land," an act of kindness by Miller's mother is rejected by the narrator, who aches with inadequacy when he considers his standing in the world of men: "been feeling small, say you already know / you're a weakling in a world of crowding." What might have been merely a personal, confessional story takes on larger implications as Miller expands upon the premise as a life attitude: "life. Say you see yourself starting / to do things like this to your wife, acting / as if a man is made from yell and spit." Miller effectively turns the situation into an allegory any man (or woman) can relate to.
In "Pall Bearers," he describes the extreme discomfort of attending a friend's funeral: "We're tired from the standing, / the waiting, the carrying / of a weight we never knew / / till then would be that heavy." Miller exploits the enjambment of "a weight we never knew," implying the burden of their deceased friend's life. The piece culminates in an image of the six answering a nature call: "Instead we shuffle out / .kicking rain from the grass / in the backyard, and line up / against a wooden fence / .Then all of us laughing / / at this terrible salute as steam / rises from the puddles / we make in beds of mulch."
A lesser poem might have aimed for something loftier that failed to mention the less pious aspects of a shouldering a coffin. We might dismiss the ending as the...