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.