I'm not a poet. So in some ways I lack the vocabulary to praise Clifford Brooks' The Draw of Broken Eyes and Whirling Metaphysics. But I am a reader, and as a reader I can tell you that this is among the best work of its kind I've read.
The book comprises three sections. The first two are named in the title; the third is "Gateman's Hymn of the Ignoracium." In the first two, Brooks explores the everyday in language that's at once lyrical and lively. There is nothing of the academic in lines like "Kerouac drank double time/because he was lumped in with junkie friends" or "little towns don't wear time well," but everything of the real. In the third and startlingly brilliant--not to suggest the previous two were anything but--Brooks jumps from the quotidian to the mythic. He takes on the same subject matter as Dante and Milton, the Great War in Heaven and its eternal aftermath. In "Gatesman's Hymn," the narrator is a noncombatant--an angel who didn't take sides in Lucifer's Revolt and thus as a neutral sorts out the damned and fits them to apt punishment. In "Soldiers of the Gateman," we see his emissaries, demons from cultures as diverse as the Persian Zoroastrians and the Algonkians; in "Monsters," he catalogues the torments that child molesters have earned. The section ends with the chilling line, "all your sins are remembered." This is the strongest element of an already sturdy collection.
Brooks clearly writes his heart out in every line on every page. We should be grateful that he did.