by Tia Ja’nae
Poems For Ghosts In Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once by Stephen J. Golds is a stunning collection within the quintessential genre of love poetry. Routinely, love poetry follows the footsteps of Walter Benton or Robert Browning who set the standard of male romance in matters of the heart. With this magnificent outing Golds sits among the titans from the quiet cornered authority of love on the rocks.
In part one aptly entitled Bleeding Out While An Ant Crawls Along A Chain Link Fence we begin our journey with our male protagonist coping with a breakup. The brilliant part of this section is we establish who we’re working with. In part to our own life experiences we know who he is; it’s that good friend or family member that fell in love with the wrong woman we all knew was out of his league and would drag him through the gutter badly. Now he’s a mess, stuck in the bottom of a bottle trying to drown his sorrows away. He can’t go forward and get on with his life and he’s stuck in memories rotting in the corners of his mind trying to figure out how he got there.
The voyeuristic cauldron our protagonist has sucked us into doesn’t make us feel sorry for him but for his situation. It forces the reader to take a side in his relationship, which will always be team protagonist. Do we care it was his fault he wound up with a broken heart? Hell no, and we’re okay with that. But will we betray him and side with the bitch that turned him out and made him a mess? Hell no, and we’re okay with that too. That is the Easter egg of the first part of the book – our preconceived opinions and judgements of similar situations have already built our own expectations of perception of our treatment of the character.
Thanks to our prejudice we can strut into part two somberly entitled Sometimes Love Is Like Footsteps In An Empty Damp Night. Here we are judge and jury of our protagonist as he wallows in the second stages of breakup that leaves us in a manic depression in part to him being a frustrated mess. He’s losing weight. He’s wandering around without a friend in the world. Plenty of women want to help him screw the taste of the ex out of his mouth but neither his mind, body, or soul are up to the challenge. Love has beat the hell out of him and all he wants to do is die to find peace. All the reader can do is sit on the couch and drink with him in solidarity and ride it out shogun lest they kill him to put him out of their misery. When we’ve had enough we’ll leave until we can come back and deal with his bullshit. Again, we’re okay with that too.
The mouthful of part three’s Lose Color A Picture In Feverish Light Fade Out A Screen Projected Fallen To Black Be Gone Take These Aching Wounds With sets the pace of our protagonist hitting rock bottom. In a stunning conclusion we follow our protagonist through his own personal hell of a rehab, elated that he’s finally taking responsibility for the mess he’s gotten us all into. He knows what he did and even opens up about what the ex has done. He’s finally open to admitting he’s hurt. He’s back out playing the field having meaningless sex trying to get his thoughts together. Best of all he’s not just feeling sorry for himself. He’s finally calling out those bitches. Stumbling through the void of nothingness he’s healing, and we’re right there with him to catch him when he falls. When it’s all said and done we all know he’s going to be just fine.
Accurate, sobering, and terrifying at times, the poems of Poems For Ghosts In Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once are not your standard matters of the heart fare academia has indoctrinated the population with. This is a brutal and often schizophrenically painful account of the male side of love on the rocks in a society that scorns their feelings. Our protagonist is so distraughtly wrought with guilt and hurt that he’s standing on shaky ground by himself, in a society that demoralizes him for being weak, afraid, and vulnerable. He’s a punk in our eyes and we prove that by being his best critic, judging him from our own little pedestal of contempt as he struggles for his own sanity at our amusement.
Now do yourself a favor, read the book, and let Stephen J. Golds silently force you to deal with your prejudices you are much too prideful to admit in public.
Poems For Ghosts In Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once is currently available on Amazon, released by Close To The Bone Publishing.