POETRY REVIEW: Where I Ache by Megan O’Keeffe

Title:                Where I Ache                             31v4d2pFWyL

Author:          Megan O’Keeffe

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About The Author

Megan OKeeffe is an up and coming poet with her debut collection Cracked Open. She has been writing poetry for over a decade before publishing her work on her blog Debatably Dateable. A romantic at heart, Megan can’t help but draw inspiration from the love and relationships around her. Always developing her art though, Megan touches on mental illnesses, self-love, and life’s journey. When she isn’t writing, Megan can be found spending time with her dog, two sisters, and boyfriend.


Book Blurb (From Amazon)

This collection is broken up into six chapters ranging from themes such as depression, jealousy, grief, and strength. These are delicate subjects to talk about and most people avoid them because of the uncomfortable vulnerability. I’ve always written and shared my poetry with the hope that readers would relate and feel less alone. I hope you feel a sense of community to all of those connected throughout this collection. Please seek professional help if these sensitive topics are affecting your daily health and happiness.


The Review

Where I Ache by Megan O’Keeffe is a book of poems about mental and physical pain, grief and loss. It is her sophomore collection and I have read an eARC of the book which is due for release on June 10th, 2019. Megan has written these poems to help people who relate to this understand that they are not alone. Though the subject is not a happy one, the book itself is not depressing for the reader, as one might initially expect.

The book is divided into six sections, each named after the part of the body whose aches the poems talk about. Megan’s poetry is free verse, not rhymed and does not follow any particular pattern. The long poems are mixed up with the short and the very short ones providing variety for the reader. A number of very beautiful illustrations by Kevin add to the expressiveness of the book.

The situations and feelings that are being talked about are very relatable and we have all felt some of this at some point in our lives. “Everyone makes life look so easy but I’m gasping for air” from the poem Lost At Sea particularly touched me as this feeling is also a product of widespread social media exposure, especially for the younger people who are still trying to find their way through life.

There are many examples of very beautiful and apt expression by the poet-

A trail of tears down my skin.
Scars littering my soul. (Morning)

I’ve seen it’s rough edges
on my own once stainless skin. (Scar Tissue)

I’m sorry I’m so fragile right now.
If I could, I would escape me too. (A Night in the Darkness Wears on You like a Lifetime)

Thoughts anchor to each other
weaving a web over any exits. (The Mind’s Maze)

Megan has touched on many issues in this book and has covered all aspects of an individual’s journey, from depression, self-doubt, pain, self-questioning, to acceptance, regrouping and hope. The poems are honest, straightforward and empathetic.

Her use of unusual and very descriptive metaphors sets the book apart from others dealing with similar subjects. Her short poems are generally more cohesive and well written than the longer ones, but that in no way implies that the longer ones are not good. The feelings of love, helplessness against another’s pain, self-doubt and hope have been brought out really well. I particularly loved the poems in the first section more than the others.

Some of my favourite poems in the book are Lay with me (which is a beautiful expression of the need for human contact), Late Night Thoughts, This Pain Can’t Be Reasoned With, Bloom, You Are Made of Stars, and Dreams.

The book is beautifully simple and simply beautiful, not meant just for those hurting, but for everyone who would perhaps gain a better understanding of another’s unsaid aches. I am looking forward to future work by the poet and wish her the very best with her upcoming collection.


POETRY REVIEW: Against The Night by PMF Johnson

Title:                Against The Night: Love Poems                                  Against The Night PMF Johnson

Author:            PMF Johnson

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About The Author (In his own words)

I am a novelist and poet married to Sandra Rector. We love reading, finding new restaurants, and travel. We celebrate each victory, no matter how small, and never work on Saturdays. In the evenings, I read novels to Sandy for fun. In this way, we have slowly made our way through Middlemarch, Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre and many others. Some are better than others, we’ve decided, and you can’t always tell by reputation. But our favourites at the moment include Trollope and Henry James.

I have been writing poetry and fiction for many years, learning more than I necessarily wanted to about humility and such virtues.

I write two irregular blogs — once every other week or so — 1st, about (other people’s) poetry in current magazines, at PoetryCommentary; 2nd, about (other people’s) novels, at FictionCommentary  Both explore how writers create the effects they do.


Book Blurb

These 88 poems sparkle up a smile about a long love’s journey that still bangs sprightly as an old jalopy. Here is the tale of a marriage built in parts like a bicycle, old-fashioned as fudge. These poems burn, soothe, scrawl for help with a sharpened spoon. Poems quick as hope. Poems to replace your breath with fire.

Many have appeared in such magazines as The North American Review, Nimrod International Journal, The Atlanta Review, The Midwest Quarterly, The Portland Review, and elsewhere. Enjoy them today!


The Review

Against The Night: Love Poems is a book of love poems that the author has written to his wife Sandra. The beauty of that dedication was the first thing that struck me, as did the very descriptive cover… looking out into the night together is what true love stands for.

The book itself is captivating, right from the word go. The introductory poem immediately tells you what is special about the book, these are love poems with a difference. They are not too mushy, they talk of real life, of battling the odds and of how love stays as the one constant in life’s journey.

What I love about the book is the unexpectedness, every page you turn brings something new. There is a sharp edge to the poems that somehow gives strength to the feelings of love, a little like a bit of sugar makes the hot food hotter! What I also love is the blend of nature, the sky and the stars and the whole universe with the mundane, the everyday situations, the rough and tumble of life.

There are so many beautiful poems worth a special mention, but some of my favourites are Ensorcelled, Valentine’s Day, Universal Studies, 6 AM, Who Will Be, How Sandy Sings… I am beginning to get to know her, and I love what I am beginning to know!

What I would definitely prefer to see added is a detailed index in the kindle version. What do I do when I want to find a poem again? Going looking back and forth can get a little tedious.

The book is all about being, in the words of the author, “Curled in a smurl of love, You and I…” A book about a love that is strong, beautiful, dreamy, yet grounded in reality, “Against The Night” is something I would love to read at least a second time, and then maybe again!

POETRY REVIEW: Cherry Blossom Days by Sandy Benitez

Title:                Cherry Blossom Days                                    Cherry Blossom days

Author:            Sandy Benitez

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About The Author 

Sandy Benitez writes poetry and short fiction. She is the founding editor of Flutter Press and Poppy Road Review. Her previous poetry micro-chapbook, The Lilac City, was published by Origami Poems Project. She’s been published in over 140 print and online literary journals since 2006 and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart. Sandy has also authored five poetry chapbooks and has been published in five anthologies. She’s always been intrigued by the paranormal, forests, gardens, and abandoned buildings. Sandy currently resides in Southern California with her husband and two children.


Book Blurb

Cherry Blossom Days, by Sandy Benitez, is a collection of lyrical love poems; a love story that unfolds within the season of Spring infused with memories of the Pacific Northwest and Asian imagery.


The Review

Cherry Blossom Days is a beautiful love story written in soft, lyrical poems that do not fail to touch hearts even after many readings.

The journey of love has been documented through the use of imagery of nature. The theme of seasons and plants in various stages of their growth runs through the entire book. The poems talk of love being born, the difficulties that the couple goes through together, of waiting and meeting, and of the insecurities that, at times, live in the hearts of lovers. The lovely scenes created by the poet make them come alive in our minds and leaves the reader with a sense of gentle contentment.

The book is full of lovely metaphors and images of nature at its most beautiful, even in its decline. My personal favourite is the second poem of the book, “The Path of a Pearl.”

Cherry Blossom Days has both short and slightly longer love poems interspersed by Haikus. The tone of the book is conversational, and the poems lyrical. At a couple of places, I felt that the poems have been broken into paragraphs that serve no purpose greater than structure, but the book, otherwise, is almost perfect in its content and presentation.

An easy read, with gentle and loving poetry, the book has a very Asian feel to it in its imagery, but the emotions woven through it are timeless and pure. I would recommend this for a short, feel-good, weekend read that would surely bring a smile to your lips.

POETRY REVIEW: Insomniacs, We by J. Andrew Schrecker

insomniacs, we (cover)

Title:              Insomniacs, We                                             

Author:        J. Andrew Schrecker

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About The Author

J. Andrew Schrecker was born in Owensboro, Kentucky. He is the author of Post-Millennium Rhapsody and Insomniacs, We.


Book Blurb

Insomniacs compose grocery lists and manifestos, a phoenix lies charred in its own ashes, and shadows hide in corners, afraid of themselves. In this decade-spanning volume of poetry, J. Andrew Schrecker blends surrealism, observation, and personal confession to paint a portrait of heartache and longing in recession-torn America.


The Review

“Insomniacs, we” by J. Andrew Schrecker is a book of poems written between 2005 and 2017, and in the words of the author, meant for the restless generation. Very relatable poetry whose tone perfectly complements the words is the USP of “Insomniacs, We”.

The title of the book is very intriguing. The beautiful epigraph, which incidentally has quotes that I love, and the very interesting poem titles in the Table of Contents got me reading eagerly.

The opening poem, very aptly titled “Insomniacs, We” is a great introduction to the insomniacs, the creators who look at the world with a different set of eyes than everyman.

I love the general tone of the book which is just right for the content. The poems are not rhymed or have a traditional poetic structure. They are more paragraphs of thought, but they work very well for this collection.

The word pictures created by the poet are stunning. Some of my favourites are:

The urges swelling up inside
me—to delete every contact
from my phone, to smash
my head against a brick wall. (Americana)

I hunch
over a desk better suited for
a child, a bad comedian for
an audience of none,
your classmates away on
a trip. (Thoughts Adrift)

And yet here I am, restless and
alone in the same bed I’ve
always slept in, my inadequacies
and failures not so photogenic. (Scarlett O’Hara)

The stark contrast depicted by Schrecker in the poem “Everything” shows his mastery over words.

There is something strangely gripping in the turmoil depicted by the poet. Many of the thoughts are not happy but never depressing, almost carrying a matter-of-fact acceptance that is at once troubling and alluring. The book is full of stories in grey…not light, yet not touching darkness. Though for me the cover was not too inviting, the book itself turned out to be a very absorbing read. I would certainly love to read his other poetry collection as well.

POETRY REVIEW: A Woman’s Story-Her Prerogative Spoken Through His Words By Derrick Graham

Title:                A Woman’s Story                                                              a woman's story pic

                          Her Prerogative Spoken Through His Words                                          

Author:          Derrick Graham

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About The Author

Derrick was born in Huntsville, AL. In 1992, he joined the United States Navy. During his 20 year career, he served with the Marines and the Seabees. He’s also been deployed to the Mediterranean, Japan, and Afghanistan. In August 2014, he graduated from Grantham University with his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. In September 2016, he graduated from Grantham University with his Business Leadership Certificate. In October 2016, his first poetry collection was published entitled Heartfelt Moments: Treasures of the Heart. This book was written to help veterans and their families develop possible coping mechanisms for handling an array of problematic issues. It also has a message for everyone even if they didn’t have an affiliation with the military. Derrick currently resides in Huntsville, AL with his wife Felesha.


Book Blurb

I am strong and liberated and difficult to understand. I am determined in my agenda no different than a man. If I see something I want, I’ll watch then I’ll see if he is definitely the man that’s perfect for me. Derrick Graham’s A Woman’s Story takes the reader on a journey of love, confusion, motivation, and tearful moments. Each climatic experience reveals a message that strives for stability in life and relationships. Although it is spoken through his words, it illustrates it’s not easy being a woman.


The Review

A Woman’s Story (Her Prerogative Spoken Through His Words) By Derrick Graham is a journey through the life and heart of a woman at various points in her life as she sometimes smiles and sometimes struggles to make sense of the world and her situation in it.

The poems are written in the first person by the woman (in whose voice Derrick Graham is speaking) The book, that is almost like a diary of a woman, is a good mix of poems of gravity, and those in a lighter vein. Some talk of incidents, some of feelings and others of her own shortcomings, as she sees them.

What stands out is the poetic introduction and ending to the book where the poet speaks to the reader in a poem.

The poetry here spills the words hidden in the heart of a woman, as a man sees it, and that makes them different from the other books where the man or the woman is speaking for himself or herself.

Some of the parts that I found very appealing are

Until you become a mother
You won’t know what they’ve been through (from Being A Good Mother)

You don’t appreciate a good thing
Until it finally leaves you  (from Good Thing)

When I write a poem
They always seem to rhyme


When I write a poem
My mind and soul are free
It allows for more familiarization
For myself to get to know me (from When I Write a Poem)

I Return the Favor is a particularly touching piece for its feelings.

If you are looking for poetry with a simplicity of language, an inspiring, conversational tone and feelings that many women will identify with, read this very nicely put-together collection from Derrick Graham.

POETRY REVIEW: Moon Dreams by Mark Kloss

Title:                Moon Dreams                                             41RM-SndWlL

Author:            Mark Kloss

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About The Author

Mark Kloss is a London born business and family man, who has always had the innermost dream of writing and having others enjoy his stories. After his son’s huge success in the self-publishing game, he thought he better step it up a few gears and get his work out to the public.

Now published are ‘Game Hunter,’ and its sequel ‘Showtime,’ a young adult novel set in a dystopian zombie future.

‘It’s a Funny Thing Life,’ a poetry book of love, loss and inspiration and ‘Rioting Against the Odds,’ a poetry book of adventure and fantasy.


Book Blurb

Once again, in Moon Dreams, Mark’s soulful and uplifting poems have given perfect rhythm to the love, adventure and trials of the life we share. Like Mark’s previous book, It’s A Funny Thing, Life, each poem is easy to read and a joy to follow.

From the fishermen’s battle with nature’s raging sea, to the dark rider’s race through the forest to save his true love, his beautiful words reach into our hearts, as they first reached into his.

Most were written after the day had finished its watch, some into the late hours of night when the pace of life had slowed. And so, he offers you his latest set of poems to help you dream, if just a for a short while, of other lives and times, with the help of the moon’s friendly eye.


The Review

As the name suggests, Moon Dreams is a book set mostly in the last part of the day and the poet wishes to create a setting where you can dream under the mellow light of the moon. The simplicity and honesty of the emotions portrayed give the book its appeal.

The book opens onto beautiful word-images that Mark has created. Every poem is a wonderful story, the words are expressive, the rhyme perfect and the pictures created take the reader to the scene in an instant.

The evening sun soft on trees
Draws in its yellow heat.
Fruits on which sparrows feed
Are full, ripe and sweet.

The smell of damp and muddied leaf
Mixed with the swirling living mist
Caused the beast to grind its teeth,
“Steady there,” the rider hissed.

These lines are just a beginning and an example of the poet’s exceptional skill with words. The poetry is complemented with equally fabulous sketches that add to the charm of the book. I could point out a lot more, but I don’t want to paste his whole book here.

An easy read, overflowing with emotions and artistry, this is a must-have book for every poetry lover. All I would like to say is, “this is my kind of poetry and I love it!”

POETRY REVIEW: The Opulence Of Invention by E. P. Mattson


Title:                The Opulence Of Invention

Author:            E. P. Mattson

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About The Author

E. P. Mattson is a native Californian poet and multi-disciplinary artist. His work is keenly concerned with inner transformation, the supreme authority of the individual over the collective, and the profound healing power of the arts and the natural world. In his professional life, he’s worked as an artist on everything from theatrical plays, to video games, to blockbuster Hollywood films. But after many years of collaboration, he is now focusing on his personal artistic works, following the white rabbit of the spirit during these astounding times of transformation and upheaval. Currently, he’s at work on a book of travel poetry and photography, a collection of short plays, and the follow-up to the Opulence Of Invention. This is his debut work as a  poet.


Book Blurb

A sprawling work of poetry and original illustrations roaming the landscapes of the mythic and the surreal.  At times lyrical and darkly humorous with a sharp satirical edge, celebrating the human experience, the avant-garde and the beauty of the natural world.  Featuring 13 dreamlike line drawings created in pen and ink.

Poems range from odes to rainforests, rock stars and robber barons, to elegies of loved ones passed, cinematic dreams and surrealist fantasies, reflections and realizations.

In the spirit of the iconoclast, E. P. lampoons mass conformity, war profiteering and media manipulation while amplifying that lone voice in the wilderness, the cry of the Individual who has been pushed far out into the wild perimeters of civilization. And throughout the book, there is a love of freedom, imagination, and the communal alchemy of sharing bold truths with fellow souls around a literary campfire.


The Review

True to its name, the book The Opulence Of Invention is a grand sprawling work of art. There is something about the tone used by the poet that evokes the feeling of magnificence and the fantastic.

The opening poem sets the book straight on to its chosen path by the words of the poet. The style of the poetry in this book is sharp, even a little edgy, the choice of words and the short sentences are apt for what the poet wants to convey. The poems have a lot of repeated sounds and rhymes are strong and powerful.

What stands out are the pen and ink drawings, the first one that we encounter at the beginning of the book draws the reader in, and all the rest don’t disappoint either. The poet has used shape poetry to great effect and the placement of the words on the page enhance the reading experience.

The words Run Outside, and the guitar shape, are just two examples, a teaser, meant to churn up an appetite for more, that is well satisfied as the book progresses.


Normally, I prefer to name my favourites in a book, but as I read this one, I kept on updating my choices so many times that in the end, I decided to let the readers make their own choices. Still, I want to point out a few of the lines that I liked:

Road sign beckoned like faded postcards
leading us to this numb pilgrimage of thirst      (from Desert Poem)

Your body is a travelling renaissance fair of carnal pleasure, a key made of flesh that opens the little gates of heaven.     (from Body Freedom)

And if our world is an Eden of mist
these are teams of white mustangs


Lonesome landscapes
speaking in plumes of loss    (from Clouds)

By no means a bedtime read, this book, a beautiful amalgam of poetry and prose, needs the reader to be alert and engaged on various levels to be able to fully enjoy the poet’s creativity. I took a long while reading it, slowly degusting the pages, and I am very impressed by the creativity and effort put in by Mr Mattson.

A great read for all poetry lovers!

POETRY REVIEW : Saluda Reflections by Arthur Turfa

Title:                 Saluda ReflectionsBook Cover saluda reflections

Author:             Arthur Turfa


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About The Author

Although Arthur Turfa has travelled to many places, his writings contain images of Western Pennsylvania and the people he knew growing up. Perhaps that explains his interest in languages, people, and various places.

He has lived elsewhere in Pennsylvania, as well as California, Virginia, New Mexico, Germany, and now South Carolina. Each of these, as well as from his travels, has influenced his poetry.

Through his careers as pastor, educator, and Army chaplain, he has come into contact with people from nearly every walk of life.

In 2015 his first book of poetry, Places and Times, came out from eLectio Publishing. Turfa has also been published in print and 0n-line journals nationally and internationally. He has retired from some things, but not all. Currently the Midlands of South Carolina are home to him and his family.


Book Blurb

Saluda Reflections is a book of poetry that covers the scope of the poet’s career and some deal with earlier events and themes. A few of them deal with some contemporary issues. All of them found expression in the woods of Saluda County, South Carolina.

The Review

Saluda Reflections, as the name suggests, is a book of poetry that has been written in the woods of Saluda County, South Carolina. It takes us on a poetic journey into Saluda as the place comes alive under the pen of Arthur Turfa. The poems paint beautiful word pictures of not only the physical features but also of the times, taking the readers into beautiful woods, faded old towns, mountains, bridges and the minds of the people as the various events unfold.

The book opens with “Giles County Sonnets” that bring alive the scenery right from the first line
Westward flows second-oldest river,
meandering among forests, mountains
and several scattered communities

“Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania” is a beautiful depiction of a fading coal town and how it touches the lives of those who came to work here.

Another poem I enjoyed reading was “Reflection on Musgrove Mill and Today” with its battles in green meadows moving into cyberspace and chatrooms.

“The Twelve Bridges Road” is my favourite, because of the beautiful metaphors and symbols used by the poet.
At some point you must realize
the road only goes so far.
Eventually you sense that
there are other roads to travel
and that you will never
resolve the enigma.

Many beautifully expressive lines can be found throughout the book. Some of them are-

Her long auburn hair wafted
in the Santa Ana winds
as we walked the neighbourhood
 (from The Woman Who Knew Aldous Huxley)

an orange smog rolled in, just as toxic,
but slower-acting. Millionaire Messiah
promising flourishing mines and mills to
those who remained amid faded glories;
 (from Poisonous Fumes over Donora)

Before e’en’s last dark hour goes by.
Softly, my sweet, take I my leave of thee.
Like the wild geese now away I must fly.
 (from E’en’s Last Dark Hour)

The poetry doesn’t have much rhyme, as we traditionally might expect, but that is more than adequately made up by the story like quality of the book, that takes us step by step through the evolving landscape and society. The poet’s voice is gentle and soothing, and the tone is maintained throughout the book. Though at times, one might wish for a stronger poem, it is to be remembered that this is a book of reflections, and probably, the poet wants us to ponder along rather than react to things.

If you are too far away to visit the Saluda county, I suggest that you take this journey with Arthur Turfa, step back into the recent past and enjoy the beauty this place has to offer for the eye and the soul.

POETRY REVIEW : Reflective Dogma by Isbelle Razors

Title:                 Reflective Dogma

Author:              Isbelle Razors 

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About The Author

Isbelle Razors (real name: George Papadimitriou) comes from Athens, Greece. He writes poems and music, sings and plays the piano and studies Business Administration. He speaks Greek, English, French and Spanish. Isbelle has lived all over Greece, in Valencia, Spain, in Quantico, Virginia, in Cyprus and is also a model, an ex-narcissist (well…), a Second Lieutenant reserve of the Greek Special Forces (Airborne), a Pirate and an eternal seeker of truth and lover of beauty.

Book Blurb

REFLECTIVE DOGMA is a collection of poetry & prose that tells a story. The spiral story of the Universe. The universe of I…and you. Through the Eyes… It examines themes like the divine, the subconscious, death, love, time, narcissism & rebirth. Most importantly, it is a call to action. “Join the Revolution of the Minds!”

The Review

Reflective Dogma, the debut poetry book by Isbelle Razors is, in his own words, the spiral story of the Universe, and a prelude to another longer one that he is currently writing. To me, this book is the journey of a philosopher’s soul through time… from eternity into birth, through death, back to the beyond…

I was a little apprehensive about the book, perhaps the title did not call out to me, but the book itself turned out to be a near perfect package.  

A gripping narrative, right from descriptions to set up, and the suggestive words “END?” and “NOT THE END”, it speaks of the poet’s talent. And when one considers the fact that most of it has been written by a sixteen-year-old… well, I would certainly love to watch him grow even further! 

Isbelle is a magician with words, using them like a master to great effect, creating beautiful pictures for the readers. Some parts of the poems stood out of the rest for me-

(Cursed be thy name) 

We must hurry before the curtain falls. We are the actors.
I felt myself drowsing and drowning in the soft echoing whispers…

The sea (the apocalypse)
Oh I see the bottom and I worship your infinity

(Letter to my other self)  

The kingdom of apocryphalness 

(Artemesia’s Halo)
There is silence in this secret, isolated ceremony, the throne seems empty but the room is full 

My only fear is time… the acidic taste of leaving my life’s puzzle incomplete.

Very lyrical and rhythmic in parts, the book is a complete story, yet every poem can stand alone by itself as well. 

I found that at times the poems begin to meander in the middle, but on the whole, they are compact, refined and thought-provoking. 

This is not the kind of poetry one would be indifferent about. There’s no middle path here, either you would like it, or you won’t. It is different. The theme and the treatment is his very own, and I liked it immensely. Certainly worth a read, or two!


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