Review: Finding Solace in the Wind

Stephanie Hiteshew
Poetry
52 pages
5 ½” x 8 ½” chapbook
BoneWorld Publishing
Russell, New York
Order #MHC-46
Available HERE
$5.00
Review originally published on 9/2/10


Stephanie Hiteshew has got to be one of the wittiest characters in the small press, and this collection of snappy short poems sums up her staying power perfectly. She’s got guts; no one’s blushing away from this one, and she’s not afraid to make a stand … and man, is it beautiful. Right from the get-go, this book is a study in the short poem, a journey through short bursts of thought and emotion, and it’s not just ‘some poems’ — it’s an insanely intricate craft that I can’t even begin to touch, but that Hiteshew has mastered with the best of them, even her stated “mentor,” the late Dave Church, one of the small press’ finest short-poem writers.

The book is broken into three distinct sections: Muse, Hobo, and Sextets. Muse takes us on a journey that seems to deal mostly with nature, leaving the reader wondering if that is, indeed, Hiteshew’s muse, or if her muse lies more in the form of harking after her elders, such as the images that bring to mind the spirit of Carl Sandburg in Hiteshew’s poem, “Fingerprints”:

Fog
left its
fingerprints
clear across
the water

Stephanie’s true inner self is revealed in these monumental bursts of thought, and some of them shine a lantern on the insecurity tucked away inside her, such as “Tunnel,”

To trust a dark
tunnel
to not have
a brick wall
in the middle of it
is just something
I can’t do.

which gives away so much of Stephanie’s inner questioning, her distrust in what others say/think/do without being challenged. From the words of this book, it is clear that Stephanie is not going to believe that someone didn’t put a brick wall smack dab in the middle of all of her dark tunnels, literal or metaphorical, and she is going to proceed with caution until she’s sure there isn’t one. This caution makes her notice more than the average bear: she’s got a million pair of eyes catching each detail

“Shadows”
A mass
of clouds
freed shadows
from their people
for one, glorious
moment.

and squeezing them into the moment with just a few words, as many words as are needed to describe just one second in time, just one look in one direction on one item or one person, and then summed up with a quick-witted poet’s first and fleeting thoughts. This first section deals with a perception of nature, moments of sunshine, clouds, rivers, rocks, scrawled out almost as an obituary for the passing of beautiful days, as

Some days,
despite what
the math says,
are longer
than others.

The words of “Despite” ring true to a poet’s mind and pen, and are a firm segue into the next section: Hobo. These are truly hobo poems, nothing metaphorical here, as Stephanie details the streets, its inhabitants, its pain, its looming eyes, and her time there:

“Sharing”
The streets
all know
my name,
these two years
we’ve spent sharing.

There’s real pain and grit in the words, a knowing that can only come from experience, a silence in between the short lines that can only be heard by being there. There is a need to change from the unknown, a want to keep the moments that matter and to cling to the familiarity,

“Keeper”
Days change
without stopping.
I beg
on my knees
to keep this one.

and then this beautiful release of hope that suddenly rises unexpectedly out of the gloom, keeping the thoughts from dipping too far into the dark side:

“All Things Found”
Of all things
found,
the world
before me
waiting,
was the least
expected.

Thus taking us lucidly and high-spiritedly into the third section: Sextets, which are just that, poems of a more random nature held together by their common thread of containing six lines. This set of poems ranges anywhere from familial and parenting issues:

“Daughter You Know”
Every time I leave
the world takes on
new meaning.
Never do I come back
the daughter
that you know.

and

“Borders”
She drew
outside of the lines
confused by
her teacher’s reasoning.
Her sight had been
borderless since birth.

to politics to nature to religion to sheer words of wisdom:

“Enough of Today”
Grasp enough
of today
so that
tomorrow
will take you
seriously.

and ending with a bang that absolutely wraps up Stephanie’s charming, witty, humble, sincere, and fragile paradoxical personality perfectly:

“Quotable”
My last words
will most likely
be ‘ouch.’
Not quite the
quotable person
I’d like to be.

The one problem a reader can hit upon with a collection of short poems is that it’s easy to rush it. But I urge you — don’t rush it. Hiteshew’s poetry is worth savoring, so take each clump of perfect thought and let it roll around in your mind, paint the picture, make it last, and I promise you, her words will stay with you.

[And speaking of painting the picture, three cheers for the awesome, striking cover art by Sarah Walroth! Fits the ‘falling’ and ‘windy’ mood of the poems perfectly.]