Strong Sentiments, Fragile Poetry

D. Green’s Intent is Clear but His Assumptions on Poetry Hold Him Back

Unapologetic in its hurt, D. Green’s Fragile Body and the World Around Me shoulders its way into the poetic world. Published in 2019, this collection focuses on the poet’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and the harrowing tribulations which follow.

There is great potential in this debut collection, but it feels like the poet is writing in the way that he thinks poetry ‘should be’ styled rather than in his own authentic and valid voice. His retelling of his trials and personal saga are choked by the constraints placed on his words. The desperation to ‘sound like a poet’ results in many of the poems containing syntax that feels as if it had been composed by that great Jedi Master, Yoda.

Sometimes the best results come not from flowery, overly worked language but from brutal honesty. Such clear cut thought is displayed in Green’s piece, “Broken Smiles” :

Broken smiles are all we see
People in pain smiling half-heartedly
Trying to be brave but just wanting to cry
Let the sorrow run down our faces

Here, where his language is simple, is it the most effective. Green makes use of sharp emotion and a straight to the point delivery again in “Suicide”. He does not hide the moments of desperation, the times of hopelessness a person may feel when living with a chronic, debilitating disease. The tone of “Suicide” isn’t spiteful or even bitter. A readiness to accept what is to come glows from within the piece as the speaker reassures those dear to him that, “I will be waiting for every last one of you / So I can hold you again…” Heartbreak of heartbreaks to say goodbye to loved ones left behind.

Green also plays with the subject of a mother who is locked in a cage. This character appears several times throughout the collection. An apparent comment on the notorious ICE detention centers, the speaker shares a deep affinity with this woman. The affection of this man locked within his own body for this entrapped woman is obvious and deep. This man, whose movements are no longer under his control, and this woman locked in a strange place both share the same horrifying thought, “I may never hold my dearest loves again…”

D. Green should be highly encouraged by this work. Not only has he published a full collection, but he produced one which has a purpose. Fragile Body and the World Around Me means to be a beacon not only for individuals like himself, but for their caretakers, friends, even strangers who pass them on the street.

“Here, I am. See me,” this collection shouts into the void. But though this work wishes to be a lighthouse, the overworked composition of the poems reduces its beams to a smolder. It would behoove the poet to feel more comfortable with his own voice when writing confessional poems like these. He is the expert on the subject of himself after all.

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