Friday, January 27, 2017




breakup/breakdown by Charles Jensen
(Five Oaks Press, Newburgh, N.Y., 2016)

Charles Jensen delivers exactly what he’s supposed to deliver in breakup/breakdown. The poems are polished, and the emotional register of the collection befits its theme as indicated by its title:

I, too, know what brings a hand
to smother the reminders of a man

to shatter every dish he ate from
until  he eats from dust
—from “Selfie with Medea”

Yet breakup/breakdown would have been just one of many accomplished poetry books passing across my desk—particularly as its tales on lovers breaking up is an old story—were it not for a particular strength that made me slow down my read and relish the poems: its fine-tuned, well-wrought metaphors:

We shake loose our lives like a braid
untwirling at the end of a long day.
—from “On the Night Gays Across America Celebrate the Marriage Equality Ruling, You and I Divide Our Possessions”

                 Everything we’d placed

inside those years spilled out
like blood escaping from a vein.

Love, my friends, should never
be entrusted to the heart…
—from “Disruption”

it is time to move

on, like the wind
when it leaves

a flag gone slack,
reaching for half-mast.
—from “Death of a Nation”

Jensen even displays metaphorical deftness with abstraction:

To see your greatest fear
come true is honestly a kind

of relief: no more waiting
—from “Selfie with Annie Hayworth from The Birds

Thus, did language make me circle back to the collection’s narratives and inhabit them. Jensen’s poems request, but also deserve, reader empathy. To read them, then, is also—paradoxically, given the theme of a relationship(s) breaking up—to enjoy. I’m glad these poems exist, and thank their author for their creation.


Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects because she's its editor (the exception would be books that focus on other poets as well).  She is pleased, though, to point you elsewhere to recent reviews of her work: THE OPPOSITE OF CLAUSTROPHOBIA was reviewed by Alan Baker for Leafe Press' LITTER and by Valerie Morton for The Poetry Shed; I FORGOT ARS POETICA was reviewed by Valerie Morton for Leafe Press' LITTER; and AMNESIA: Somebody's Memoir was reviewed by two Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewers: by Kevin Killian and by Grady HarpShe released three books and two chaps in 2016, and is scheduled to release a similar number in 2017. More info at

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