Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ron Lucas' "Mother Goose Market"

     There are works of poetry and fiction that emerge, full-blown, under extreme circumstance. These events inspire artists to data mine their psyches for inspiration. Quite often, an artist is not prepared for what lies beneath the polite society of their consciousness, while others face it unflinchingly, as in Ron Lucas' first chapbook, Mother Goose Market ( © 2017 Lummox Press).
Lucas, a self-professed autodidact, credits The Great Recession for spawning his first collection. Lucas, who's been writing poetry for decades, lost "my car, my job, my place... and my mind." He states, during this time, he stopped writing. A few years later, he found himself exploring his childhood, about which he'd never written, and Mother Goose Market grew organically from that process. (Note: Mother Goose Market is a real place, and is regarded as a beloved landmark by the residents of Hazard, KY).
Mother Goose Market, as one might expect, would employ simple poems infused with clever meter and rhyme to instill in children the consequences of not conforming to a moral society. Stylistically, Mother Goose Market does the opposite; while most of the poems are short, they are not clever, or endearing. Instead, they are direct, visual, and visceral. Lucas explores the themes of spousal abuse ("Greendale"), the long-term effects of PTSD ("Brut 33", "Whipping Boy"), the legacy of inter-generational family violence ("1. Baloney, 2. Bread, 3. Cereal, 4. Milk"), the conflicted love a child feels for an abusive parent ("Happy Father's Day"), and ableism ("Less Jacob, More the Latter"), among others. For a 30 page book, Mother Goose Market is a short, heavy-handed read, but it deserves repeated reading to appreciate the compact power of Lucas's poetry, and the way the narrative emerges, stronger, with repeated reading, as in the poem "Red '98 Escort" (pg 16):

Bloody murder
She should have screamed
Last night,
But she made
Not a sound.
When I saw her face
In the halls
I nearly wept.
I swear to all the Gods
I do not believe in,
All the Gods
I damn
That such things
I thought the sonofabitch
Across the hall
Was alone
Last night,
And a red ’98 Escort
Was all she had
In common

My mother.

I'm glad, though I wasn't comfortable reading Mother Goose Market, to recommend to readers an honest volume of poetry in a time where literature is being put through the grist mill of political correctness by a functionally literate public. Real literature does not exist to make peace with the reader, and the truth, especially the ownership of personal truth, is what separates the sleepers from those who are truly awake.

Mother Goose Market, © 2017 Lummox Press (, ISBN 978-0-9984580-0-7, 30 pages, $12.

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