I had bailed out of an earlier Ashberry collection because I couldn’t seem to find my way into it, but a colleague encouraged me to try his work again, and I’m glad I did. April Galleons is one of the best poetry books I’ve read in a while. Not only does it contain great individual poems, but the collection, in addition to being hefty at 96 pages, hangs together well. Ashberry seems at ease with himself. There’s a sense of humor about these poems. It’s as though he’s seen the compromises that life requires and has figured out they’re not so bad. And he’s an absolute master at line breaks. You’ll find you want to read some of these out loud. Some excerpts –

From “Posture of Unease” –

But for all you I / Have neglected, ignored, / Left to stew in your own juices, / Not been that friend that is approaching, / I ask forgiveness, a song new like rain. / Please sing it to me.

From “Alone in the Lumber Business” –

The bridge / Of fools once crossed, there are adjustments to be made. / But you have to settle in to looking at these things.

From “Vaucanson” –

“It hurts, this wanting to give a dimension / To life, when life is precisely that dimension. / We are creatures, therefore we walk and talk / And people come up to us, or listen / And then move away.

From “Unreleased Movie” –

“And I mean what shall be saved / Of us as we live aimed at some near but unattainable mark on the wall?”

In the end, as Ashberry writes, “life manages itself.”

These are poems to return to.

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