Pat Boran has written five poetry collections and this, his sixth, with the title The Next Life is his first full-length collection in over ten years. With an almost dream-like cover of a painting 'Passeggero fiammirgo' by Gaetano Tranchino, reminiscent of a 'pilgrim' on his 'progress' along his path in a multicolour dream.
In four parts and with a total of over seventy poems, this is a fine collection, with several poems recalling childhood In 'Snowman' we see the creation from the simple view of a child and 'The Island' is about children playing in builder's sand. Seeing himself when young with delightful imagery in 'Space Travel' he "stood on the launch pad like astronauts,/ ready for the journey to a better world,/ schoolbags heavy with oxygen on our backs." 'Let's Die' is just as lovely, a celebration of innocent childhood. 'Learning to Dive' is a simple clean poem as the boy tells the story. It's clear language would appeal to school children and there were several in this collection that made me have this thought.
'Faith' about his father learning to swim describes the tough love method, "Pushed out of the boat, my father/ like so many of his sibling learned to swim/ out of necessity".
There is nature poetry too. In 'To a Worm' Boran uses admiring short descriptive words, "O mindless worker,/ blind muck-raker,/ self-buried miner,". 'Touchdown' in Part II subtitled (The Brent Geese return to Bull Island) shows the beauty in the landing of a goose, "the relaxing of muscles, the folding/ of wing, and reach, the dip/ and careful drift down into touch".
Boran can also show great humour in his poetry, in particular in 'Corner Boys' which starts "The toughest man in town is now a granddad,/ and every morning, his teenage daughter back/ at secondary school,..." and continues "he's out to push a Dora the Explorer pram"..."to stand his ground and share a grim-faced joke/ with another crew-cut granddad like himself". With a final snigger we read "comparing snapshots on their mobile phone". The tenderness in the tough character is beautifully conveyed.
There are others that are more enigmatic such as 'Godafoss'. Is it about a broken relationship, being helped to reconciliation? It's uncertainty of meaning adds to its appeal.
I particularly liked the imagery in 'The Apple Tree', seen as more than a tree on buying it "believing ourselves its liberators,/ like blacked-up intruders who release/ laboratory rats," it is then made human as "The thing stretched over the back seat/ a tree in name alone, a patient/ in the ambulance the car had become,".
Only one who knows and loves dogs could have written 'A Dog', with the recognition of its loyalty, "And there is nothing in its power/ a dog would not do, if it could/ for the one who shows it kindness", continuing "These damp smelling angels/ who suffer our moods and our scoldings". In his other dog poem 'A Man is only as Good' which is both touching and humorous, a man opening the door in the night to a dog barking outside is met with the look from the dog that says "for a minute there I thought/ there was no one awake but me/ in this goddamned town."
Boran is also a fan of the Haiku with four in this collection; 'Three Lines for Leland', 'Absence' and 'Haiku'. 'Lighthouse 1' is even more brief with just four beats in each of its three lines.
I thoroughly enjoyed and congratulate Boran on this collection with several standing out on early reading as favourites with others being appealing in their simplicity and clarity of message.
Published by Dedalus Press www.dedaluspress.com