Caleb J. Ross' booklikes

The official booklikes blog of author Caleb J. Ross.

Lisa's Flying Electric Piano

Lisa's Flying Electric Piano - Kevin Rabas, Dennis Etzel Jr. (This review originally appeared at OutsiderWriters [dot:] org)Kevin Rabas’s second poetry collection, Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, explores the effects of a life structured by music, woven amid a series of failed, yet forever impacting relationships. From learning (”Jack McCann’s Own Hometown Marching Band”) to playing (”Playing for Dave”) to understanding its power (the title poem, “Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano”), music is the backdrop, the blood, and the fuel to this series of beautifully taut relationships.The collection relies on this powerful tension amid intimacy to justify the apparent cruelness expressed by many of the characters. These vignettes in verse, tiny slices of relationships, reliably build to arresting final images. “Spare Change” caps a brief encounter between a suited man and a homeless woman with the man’s unknowing theft of her change. “Bend Credit Cards” describes the destruction of a failed couple’s final charge card, shared hatred abundant, ending on a note of promise. And perhaps the most stunning poem, likely by means of its content contrasted against the rest of the poems, “To Eat Just Once: Remembering a Ranger Lecture at Yellowstone National Park,” addresses the visceral inevitability of a hunter and prey relationship. However, even given the cruel setup, the piece still manages the understood optimism promised by a Rabas poem.In addition to the individual beauty of the poems, the collection utilizes a clever framing device to address the importance of a close reading. The opening poem, “Slow Words,” insists the reader slow down, enjoy the words, while the closing few pieces offer the reader a childlike experience involving sidewalk chalk and the rains that will wash those scribbles away (”On My Chalk,” “Economics of a Summer Rain”).Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano works so well to not only promote Kevin Rabas as a beautiful poet but perhaps more importantly to promote the art of poetry. In addition to the framing mentioned above, Rabas reliably reminds the reader that not only these words, but all words, are worth digesting slowly: There must be a reason we are given a view of our small part of the universefrom “After Stephen Hawking’s Address on Yahoo!” My grandparents said that there was no more reason for church. Card games and yarns told their stories better than bible verses, and too many friends had already passed for them to enjoy the service.from “Afternoon with Crows”