Review of MFA Student Matthew Hamilton’s Book The Land of the Four Rivers
The Land of the Four Rivers
Matthew A. Hamilton
Cervena Barva Press
“…Purple clouds swallow my words.
I walk the line toward the river and dip my hands
in the ice water and wash my face.
I look at the age of my hands and see them
transform into sand and time…”
The poet’s journey is a quagmire “within the peaceful and steady
dance of nature,” people, places and vodka. His poetry enlivens
the village mirage set in solitude:
“I take a shot, then two, until I lose count.
Someone hands me a piece of bread, cheese.
Laughter and song, then silence, winds from a feather,
clouds of sleeping sheep, sunflower dreams.
Florets of children sprout from the Darichay River.
Blood bleeds from the cliffs,
nourishing unknown souls behind an oil stained door,
the final stripe of the Armenian flag under a clear sky.
The smells of candied mulberries sneak around the fence line,
burning my veins, like glass heated into magical shapes
of triangles and squares, a stone sealing my tomb.
I wake up and do not remember how I ended up in a gift shop
buried inside the catacombs with sacred scrolls
duplicated on decaying walls.”
Hamilton’s poems take the reader into his realizations; what it
means to “watch birds peck the snow and drink from crystal
puddles.” We twirl and turn waiting for summer to melt
the constant chill:
“I open the door
and enter the warm
air of summer
and grab a scythe.
I dispatch a mix
of greens and yellows,
create swirls of air…”
I could not stop reading these poems until I got to the last
poem where I’m back to myself thinking about what it means
to travel to live within an unfamiliar environment. The poet
finally enters from where he always was, himself. Hamilton
gives us an oral tradition. His poems are the beginning of
a poetic life set in his experiences in which we may all relate.
This chapbook is a must read:
to the ground,
new life for next year’s pigs.
The fallen grass
dies a soldiers death.
The three headed fork
flips the dew off their backs..”
Wilderness House Literary Review
Ibbetson Street Press