|ForeWord Clarion Review Of My Books
Eddie Morales’ poetry collection, The Suicide Sonnets, is a meditation on what
suicide really entails. Rather than deal with the aftermath of such a death,
these poems crawl into the psyche of someone truly considering ending their
life. The poems are unflinching in their account of someone’s descent into
blackness. The 76 compact sonnets in the collection chronicle the emotional
journey of someone traveling from one end of the mental spectrum to the other.
The sonnet form is perfect for this collection. Instead of grappling with the age-
old topic of love, the poems are dark, cycling through the depths of the
speaker’s despair. The rhyme scheme deftly mimics the draining repetition of
depression. Morales’ end lines are full of rich word play. In fact, if you lined up
the end words, the reader would still grasp the poems’ meaning and tone. For
example, Morales ends the lines of “LXXI” with such words as “dispel,” “soul,”
“time,” “man,” and “crime.” This poet has a firm grasp of the form, and on how
to create rhymes that build another layer of metaphor.
There are sharp moments in this piece that may cause the reader’s hair to
stand on end. Never are the poems too gory or voyeuristic about suicide and
depression. Instead, they get right to the point. For example, Morales opens
“XVII” with the following lines, “My shiny blade knows where to make the cut, / A
slice across – and deeply – where it’s good.” This blunt opening shows the
reader just how serious this situation is.
Morales tackles difficult subject matter, but there are times when the poems
spin in circles and seem like mirrors to one another. In fact, many of the poems
sound the same. On one level, this makes sense since depression can be a
near-constant murmur. On the other hand, it can slow the pace of the
collection to a crawl.
The emotional effects of someone on the brink of suicide could have used
fresher images and metaphors to make the poems stand out. In “XIII,” Morales
describes the heart as “made black by the soot of life!” Such moments are too
loud and obvious when grappling with the complexities of suicide, depression,
and a person dreaming of death. More restraint would have made for a more
nuanced group of poems.
At the start of this collection, the poems’ speaker is in the messy gut of
depression. By dividing the collection into three sections, Morales shows the
full cycle of mental illness, and that depression does not have to be the end.
Instead, after one enters hell and dwells in purgatory, a rebirth is more than
possible. By the end of the book, the speaker finally realizes that “night is
chased by dawn.
ForeWord Clarion Review
Count Edweird Lefang’s Rhymin’ Halloween
A 4 out of 5
The old saw about not judging a book by its cover comes to mind when a reader picks up
poet Eddie Morales’ spooky Count Edweird Lefang’s Rhymin’ Halloween and sees a
cartoonish vampire more reminiscent of Count Dracula than Twilight’s handsome Edward
Cullen, with the pointy incisors and blood-red eyes. Inside, the poems are printed in a
Gothic font, which may inspire the reader to recite the poems aloud, as poems are meant to
be read, and either shout them in menacing glee, if told from the point of view of a vampire
or banshee, or whisper them in mournful tones, if a ghost or Frankenstein’s monster
happen to be the narrators.
Once the reader starts to recite the poems, the power of the words takes over and the silly
cover is forgotten. Count Lefang, who laments his vampire existence and his lost humanity,
even as blood thirst drives him to kill, narrates the first few poems.
Subsequent poems are written in the voices of other archetypal creatures of darkness,
including witches, ghouls, gremlins, skeletons, werewolves, and mummies. Morales dares
to stray into rousing lyrical territory both in form and subject. Sonnet, sestina, rondeau
redoublé, limerick, roundel, haiku, Pantoum, Terza Rima, and ballad are fair game, and
they get coupled with the characters of horror films. And the poems’ titles are just as fun as
the verses themselves, such as “A Triolet to a Vampire’s Immortality,” “A Douzet from the
Werewolf,” and “Ode to My Ghoulfriend.”
Stretching the boundaries of what counts as Halloween poetry, Morales ventures into
ancient Greek myths of creatures like Medusa and historic Egyptian figures like Imhotep.
The poet clearly enjoys experimenting with a sequel to Edgar Allan Poe’s
“The Raven,” titled a “Murder of Ravens,” in which things don’t go much better for the tragic
narrator. Some poems are funny, some are creepy, and some are sad, but all of them
share an intensity and earnestness that demonstrate Morales’s respect for the poem as a
form of art used to convey story, emotions, and ideas.
The author of two previous books of poetry, A Reason for Rhyme and The Suicide Sonnets,
Morales is passionate about the rhyming form. In his introduction to Count Edweird Lefang’
s Rhymin’ Halloween, he laments the dearth of rhyming verse in modern poetry, fearing it is
becoming a lost art. If the poems in his new collection compel readers to seek out works by
Poe or Mary Shelley or Bram Stoker, then mission accomplished.