July 18, 2008

Review by Sara E. Lamers

by Josh Rathkamp

Ausable Press
1026 Hurricane Road
Keene, New York 12942
ISBN: 978-1-931337-35-9
2007, 91 pp., paper, $14.00

The poems within Some Nights No Cars At All are poems of distance–the distance we have to travel to get to the person who resides within the same walls we do, the distance to overcome childhood bruises, to see things as they truly are and not as what they appear to be. They are poems that reveal the darkness of relationships, of the way we are apt to wound one another, the way we try to make up, succeed and fail, learn to muddle through and keep on going.

Sure we’ve read poems that tackle these themes before, but it is the way Rathkamp presents tension softly and carefully, breaking the bad news gently that compels the reader onward. As in “June in the Desert,” where the narrative turns from the destruction “out there” to the cold facts in front of the speaker:

Last night my girlfriend said
that there wasn’t a burning
between us, nothing that would make
her tape her life to mine.

Yet the speaker clings to a strand of hope, explaining “but still we decide to wait/ for something to grow/ into something else.” And we sense the pointlessness but appreciate the honesty, knowing that any of us would try to reassure ourselves in the very same way.

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