April 5, 2009

Review by Alexa Mergen

by Warren Woessner

The Backwaters Press
3502 N 52nd Street
Omaha, NE 68104-3506
ISBN 978-0-9793934-4-0
2008, 92 pp., $16.00

We’ve stopped waiting
for big breaks, know how
the little ones add up
into six lives spent
mostly in art, sometimes
at our best.

These lines, from the poem “Rendezvous,” summarize Woessner’s approach to his art as evidenced in this collection selected from 20 years of work. Like “Rendezvous,” originally published in Heartlands Today and one of the final poems in the concluding section called “Flyways,” the poems in Clear All the Rest of the Way feel personal and generous, as if Woessner is acknowledging friends in this collection (including the places and birds he has known) and inviting readers to gather “around the lost library table.” He dedicates the collection to the poet David Hilton and the first poem is “Letter to Hilton from Madison”:

Dear Dave, It’s Saturday. The light
that never got to work is falling down
drunk on a stormy afternoon.
The two plum trees are in bloom
and shaking with wind and life.
The tulip patch which half-opened last week
is folding up like a church bazaar
caught in the rain.
Even the cat won’t go out today.
The roof leaks some.
The drops falling on a rag in a pot
sound like a hot engine cooling down.
Miles just finished blowing “Round About Midnight.”
I’m not sure if I’m lonely,
but I’m going to stick around and find out.
Maybe I’ll write some letters,
maybe some poems. Love, Warren.

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