Is poetry what we really want to read? Today, in our busy lives, when serious blocks of reading time are hard to come by, it seems to me that poetry is exactly what we ought to read. Take any poem in Stewart Florsheim’s new book, The Short Fall From Grace, and what you get for a one page read is a world of past, present and future.

Beneath the surface of dense yet acces­sible lan­guage is a world that is as much ours as the poet’s. In the poem, Five Years Old, we see a tough little kid leaving (by himself) his hos­pital bed the day after his ton­sil­lectomy, only to meet his mother in the revolving door of the hos­pital entry. They go around and around until the boy’s laughter is silenced by his mothers frantic, angry words, “Don’t you ever do this to me again.” Of course the boy will. The boy must do it again, just as we have done it to our mothers. And we know at the close of the poem that our children will do it to us. One poem. One page.

Whether Flor­sheim writes about his life or, as in many of the poems in this book, about artist-​​captured moments on canvas, each poem is its own story. Read them again while car­pooling, train com­muting, or waiting your turn at the dentist. Florsheim’s knack for that jolt of under­standing just below the surface makes these poems almost pho­to­graphic. Believe me, you’ll hear the “click” of the camera. We see what the poet sees, and because Florsheim’s lan­guage has the light of insight, it is enough for poet and reader.


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