(Reviewed by Christina Anne Taylor)
I received my copy of In Perpetuity, the first poetry collection of Mark Andrew Heathcote, a literary friend from the UK, and enjoyed reading it over coffee this morning. I’d call it a chapbook at 58 pages, but it’s perfect-bound with a beautiful, simple cover design of which the book’s preface is printed on the back and serves as an adequate summary from the poet to the reader:
“These poems are a snapshot of twenty-five years of poetry in the making. My words have given form to a living, breathing diary of one man’s life. Come take my hand and travel with me through moments of disparity, passion, and joy in my first collection of poetry [ . . . ] I give you my words, forever leaving you a piece of me.”
What strikes me about Heathcote’s work is how natural and honest he is through these 53 poems (“a living, breathing diary,” as he said), and I’d like to just quote some of my favorite parts of poems that struck a chord with me.
In “A Temporal Vision,” the poet begins with a tight “2/4 time” opening, then expands the lines briefly before lifting into a poetic flourish of inspiration:
Did I trace the wind backwards through its red iron clay root?
Trace it back to the core of a cavern in the mouth of a cave,
Back into them dank, dark smells of England’s thorn and fire,
Green-oaks tall as a bluebell’s spire,
English yews, soft scented, with a slow-growing desire.
In “Betel Leaves,” he gives us a more structured verse (many in his collection are melodic yet structured and with random rhyme). Lines 5-12:
“Our eternity has no windows,” she said:
“Whatever direction you take yourself,
Be sure your heart has partaken and dined,
And your soul is well fed.”
Then placing an emerald leaf around my head,
She embellished me with a silken thread.
“Our eternity has no windows,” she said,
“But we too are butterflies jointly cocooned in a web.”
“Graced Am I,” lines 3-11:
Sunlight is our first brush with love
But moonlight, even when eclipsed
In its shadowy bloom
When it falls on our lips,
Is second to none:
It tugs at us in its ocean swell
It points us in ever unexpected new directions
It is the eye of a hurricane
It is the lily pads swaying…
In “How Wrong Was I,” we feel again what too many of us have felt at least once in life, and we empathize. The first half:
Once I came close to your Magnum Opus
I thought I was your inspiration
How wrong was I
Once I came close to your whispering soul
I thought I was its constellation
How wrong was I
Once I came close to the vortex of your heart
But I never entered; you didn’t want me there
Oh, how I drowned in deep despair.
And the first stanza of “Steps of Heaven”:
Morning glory must open
To seed the steps of heaven
And on her nap of cloud
Might yours be a halo, a crown
Opening the gates of heaven.
We see a common theme of the contemplations of a thoughtful, romantic soul who poured his human experience into this poetic heart-full collection. In Perpetuity serves to remind us that we are not alone in our struggles and our moments of joy through the beauty of the simple things. It’s available via Amazon.com and is also formatted for a free Kindle download, but of course I recommend a print copy.