Form Beats Out Function With Displeasing Results
The Light Before We Land, published in 2019, is an ambitious collection which is split into three sections entitled “Abstract Poems,” “Narrative Poems,” and “Christian Poems.” Patrick D. Kaiser’s poetry fails to light the imaginative spark of the reader. It is unfortunate but Kaiser has fallen into a trap of adhering so vehemently to his chosen rhyme schemes that he strangles the tones and voices of many of the poems throughout all three sections. This neglect manifests as a dull hum emanated from nearly all the poems in unison. Kaiser’s work may be called The Light Before We Land, but many readers will be looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.
If a reader can break through the wall of humdrum, they will find some endearing little pieces like “Dream on,” “Brave Blue,” and “Phoenix”. “Dream on” is in a word – charming. Kaiser captures the absolute pleasure of immersive dreams so succinctly and ends his poem with a sweet affirmation. “Dream on / Dream down to your core / Dream – Dream & dream some more”. At only four stanzas, it is one of Kaiser’s shorter pieces, but it also one of his most effective. It puts a much appreciated smile on the reader’s face.
“Brave Blue” is a poem of peaceful defiance. There is a refusal to sink into despair when surrounded by the natural world’s beauty. Much like contemporary Catherine Kyle, Kaiser recognizes how loving nature is actually a political act.
Here, on this mountain – Away from it all
Peace envelopes – Mind, body & soul
Nature thrives in the void
“What could destroy this?” I ask you to say
What force may take this beauty, heavenly made?
There’s an invigorating energy running throughout this piece that would have been so nice to see in the rest of Kaiser’s work.
“Phoenix” is another piece that readers are encouraged to spend time with. In this piece, Kaiser has unearthed an elegance that is rather surprising. The piece opens so delicately: “Ash like snow / Kissing my skin, it falls”. “Phoenix” begins as a hushed whisper which makes the “sirens in the distance…” all the more shrill and gives the third stanza a delightfully sharp edge:
The ringing echoes in my skull
The tactile splinter, the match
Rolls between the two,
My digits, callused and worn
Kaiser can clearly control words in such a way as to manipulate a reader’s sense of place and sound. This ability is both a blessing and a curse as when he gets is right, he creates a gem, but when he fails to apply this talent to the rest of his pieces they are left with a rather lackluster shine.
What is highlighted by the rest Kaiser’s text is the need for writers to offer up their works as sacrificial lambs to a few lovingly cutting eyes. Allowing new minds to look over a work before publication can prove to be incredibly useful to a poet, as while they may understand exactly what they are writing about, a beta reader will be able provide proof that, even if the true meaning isn’t uncovered, an emotional tie between reader and poem was able to be established at the very least.
Readers curious to reader Kaiser’s poems for themselves can order this collection (as well as his other publications) today.
Did you like this review? Send a one time tip!
If you’re a poet who would like a free review, click here!