I recently joined Writers of Kern and received a warm welcome from several of its members, among them Carla Joy Martin. Not long afterward, Carla surprised me with a thoughtful, beautifully written review of SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME. This, I told myself, is a woman of acute and perceptive mind and extraordinary good taste! Perhaps I should take a look at some of her poetry, so I ordered a copy of A KALEIDOSCOPE OF LOVE, a series of poems that tell the story of a love affair—its explosive beginning, its passionate progression, its painful end.
Amazon promised the book in a couple of days, and Amazon delivered. I found the slim volume waiting for me as I returned from a morning spent at the local emergency room where I’d taken my wife Sonja for treatment of a broken arm. (She’d gone for a walk, and as an obsessive photographer, she keeps her eyes were on everything except her feet and where she’s putting them.)
Tired, a bit stressed, I had only enough time to read the first poem as we immediately plunged into the preparation of a dinner party for a pair of Bear Valley expatriates–two of Sonja’s closest BVS friends who moved to Santa Fe and had returned for a visit to the Homeland. As I said, I had only enough time to read the first one, but I was so knocked out by it that as soon as I had dinner under control, I sat down and read the book cover to cover.
After dinner, when we learned that our Santa Fe guests were members of a poetry circle, I read a sampling of Martin’s poems to them: “Cocoon,” “Lead Me On,” and “The Things I Love To Taste.” I’d like to have added “The Bandersnatch,” “My Love Became a Tree,” and “A Kaleidoscope of Love,” but there wasn’t time. No matter. They so loved the work that they plan to order the book and propose it as the subject of one of the meetings of their poetry circle. (I will, of course, expect Carla to provide me with the standard ten-percent commission on the sales.)
I offer this story in place of review, analysis or commentary because I don’t think any words of praise could begin to convey my enthusiasm for the work as effectively as the spontaneous impulse to share it with friends. Carla Martin does what I consider the most important task of the writer, and that is to get emotion down on the page. I think it was Frost who said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” It amazes me how many highly praised novels, plays and poems are emotionally sterile intellectual exercises. I don’t care how brilliantly conceived or crafted a work of art may be, if those tears aren’t there, the work is meaningless to me. Melville said it best in a letter to his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne: “To the dogs with the head. I stand for the heart.” Carla Joy Martin stands for the heart.
I wonder if any of you are old enough to remember the classic Lay’s Potato Chip commercial starring Bert Lahr—the actor best known, of course, as The Cowardly Lion. Bert’s getting dressed as the Devil appears to him in a puff of smoke. He’s holding a bag of Lay’s chips and he offers a dare: “Betcha can’t eat one.” Bert rises to the challenge, eats one, and enjoys it so much that he says he’ll have another, but the Devil pulls the bag back and reminds Bert, “I said just one.” Bert grabs the bag and stuffs his mouth with chips, and the narrator say, “No one can eat just one.”
With Carla’s permission, I want to play the devil here–Sonja would insist it’s type casting—and offer you just one of the KALEIDOSCOPE poems. It’s called “Cocoon,” and it’s the first in the series.
You want more? Sorry. I said just one.