Reviewed by JW Mark
In its eponymous poem, Vernon Fowlkes, Jr.’s The Sound of Falling speaks of things “beyond the tongue” and urges us to recognize the things that lurk beyond ourselves. And yet, despite our grand desires, perception comes at a distance. In “Beyond the Moorings,” he writes “it is you, tugging” as if to remind us of this active work in life. He takes us to “heavens of a wood loft” in “Unfinished Business” and there we find the stuff for our attempts. Both “beams” and “hands,” the very material and tools of life. Its all there, and yet with the poem’s conclusion we find again our limitations. “Everyday we’re left to eat, to sleep, sit in rooms now furnished with nothing.”
Might poetry be our better tools to make sense of life? Is art one’s ideal device? Might we find some greater sense of who we are and where we come from by reading and creating? One reads The Sound of Falling as a taut collection of works reflective and suggestive of these attempts. Our “grief is a bell”, he writes in “You Might Say”- are we better made in ringing it?
Look here for constant striving, for a poet’s work to gather a sense of what is seen. Silence “wraps us in everlasting silence” in “Waiting on Your Path Report.” One wonders whether this poet, or perhaps all poets, strive constantly for something more, perhaps something always beyond reach. In The Sound of Falling might we learn lessons from those “silent rooms” or “voices in our lives”? Certainly, Fowlkes perceives the riddles of existence. He includes our stash of common items: “radios that broadcast”, “bells and bees”, even “predawn darkness” makes the page. His collection takes us down a walk of speckled grassy carpet. And yet, maybe we’ve been here before. Are all these things more beauty or just more items to confuse? Fowlkes suggests the question, and yet here bluejays and thunderstorms astound. Even God makes his appearance, and yet, he too cowers in limitation.
The Sound of Fallingstrikes this reader as a study of grand attempts. Wander in its “Interior Decoration” or “The Museum of Darkness” and find among its neighboring pages uncertainties of knowing. “The life of grace began with loss”, he writes. Like the “trembling rabbit in its cage of ribs” we never just give up. Here is poetry in hunting, works of text that seek not to celebrate our knowing but instead admit our wanting. In Fowlke’s one hears voices in desire. He reminds us in “It Flashes Brightly” that both time and love will never suit our needs. Both, he writes, are “never long enough” and though we long for something more, it remains beyond our reach.
There is no certainty here. For, limited though we are, in The Sound of Falling we see poetry of work. Here is human work: that humble, endless striving that defines just who we are. Here is poetry of people and their grand attempts for more.
JW Mark is a poet living in Ohio. His work has appeared in numerous national and international publications. His current goals are to secure a publisher for a collection of his work. He is the author of a novel, entitled Artifice, as well as a book of poems entitled Patched Collective and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via his website http://jwmark.wordpress.com/