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Along the Path by Mark Clement - Chapbook, 24 pages - Copyright 2006 - ISBN 0-9782399-0-3

Review by Joan Latchford - July 2004

In his poem "Love Perhaps," Mark Clement claims he writes about anything he "damn well pleases," and Along the Path is a varied and somewhat uneven collection of poems he has written over the last forty years.

Along the Path opens with what is for me the strongest poem in the book. "I have not been taught about death" is a series of dispassionate observations of an interment, all the more resonant for their accuracy and objectivity.

"It is over. The rain has stopped
and we wander, like fallen leaves
blowing in the autumn chill, careful
not to rush or look at the sky."

"Business Trip to Jamaica" struck another chord, since on my immediate arrival in Negril, I too, once floated to regard the stars - until attacked by sea lice whose stinging bites compared unfavourably with falling naked into a bed of nettles.

Clement boasts some great lines that stick in the mind - "In those warm days / when I lay green upon the grass", though in some cases the line may be greater than the sum of a poem's entirety.

He can also have fun playing with an image we have taken for granted as in "Cliché."

"Say you have these boots
you grab the straps and pull,
pull for all your worth
until you levitate and defy the law of gravity."

It is generally supposed that "anyone can write about nature," a fallacy that engenders a great many rapid "ho-hum" turning of pages, both for lack of perception and for a freshness of expression. In contrast, The "Rise of Night" describes a sight so common as to have been overlooked -- in such plain and apt language, it boasts a staggering originality.

"Darkness always lingers
tucked under small bushes
and hidden under fallen leaves.

It quivers in those small spaces,
and eager it slithers into view
as the busy light withdraws…."

In his introduction Mark Clement claims "Being greedy / I hoard my talent / for my own pleasure./"

He should be encouraged to hone it for a wider audience.

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