Review by Ann Privateer (email)

by Quinton Duval

Cedar House Books, 610 East Delano Street, Suite 104, Tucson, Arizona 85705; ISBN# 0-9635727-9-2, $12.00

Rain provides sustenance for plant. In Quinton Duval's second book of poetry, discord and loss are sustained by nature and humor. Duval deals with life's losses through natural beauty and so, maybe we should shut up and eat. Joe's Rain acknowledges loss and regret but maybe, just maybe through it all, on some special day...

           under the overpass, trucks above
           barreling somewhere hurried,
           a shower of cherries, shaken
           from their crates around a curve

...will rain down on you.

Some setting for Duval's poems are seedy cafes, bars, stopped at a traffic light, under the stars, or at the beach. The book begins with "Welcome" and ends with "I Won't Go Back."  "Welcome," extended by an older persona recalls once clowning and reacting to other people but now:

           what matters is the love
           you hold tight as a dollar
           in your fist, while the light slides
            from your shoulders and falls
           all around you.

Time is running out, there's no getting away with being remote any longer.

Nostalgia operates in "What Would You Give?" dedicated to David Rey. In this poem, one man tells a story about another who finds a penny in his oatmeal. The second man listens, waiting for his chance to tell the story about a hung-over trio having a distracted breakfast at Azar's when a pretty girl's white panties were visible to all and his inability to tell her. The retelling of two stories entwine, reliving the experience in the telling and wishing to once more “...have breakfast with those two / both lost in the flow of time?”

The language in Joe's Rain is straight-forward. Most of the poems are in stichic form. There are good-byes with a pretty hot weather girl in the next car, loves warmth on a spring freeze, the message of rebirth in "Beloved," flashbacks of first loves innocence in "Swans," losses in "Nerves" and in "Weep." Life stirs and reverberates even after it is gone in "Mockingbird Farewell" when...

       the two-ounce impressionist
       from Fresno...from your plastic bag in the trash
       you'll be opening somewhere soon
       and the crowd will love you...

Duval's collection has dark moments with fresh resolutions. Images acknowledge that death is a part of life. Waiting and watching while a parent's life ends sometimes can play out ironically in "Bon Voyage."  The first line begins with, My father took his time dying, and ends with waiting for his name to be called.

Joe's Rain ends, “the moon / reflects the sun / that's whats real” so, celebrate the irony of it all when you can, collect those cherries raining down on you, pour out the libation and drink it dry as in "I Won't Go Back": "Have some more. Let's not save a thing."

Quinton Duval has given us a look at all that we can ever ask of life through poetry rich with optimism.



Ann Privateer: "The roles that seem to endure most in my life are that of parent, poet, and photographer. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and now live in Davis, California. Some of my poems have appeared in Manzanita, Poetry and Prose of the Mother Lode and Sierra, The Arts of the Sierra & Sacramento Region, The Sacramento Anthology: One Hundred Poems, and several other journals and newspapers."


Note: Reviews may not necessarily reflect the opinions of RATTLE's editors and staff.