Poetry Review — Whiskey Words & a Shovel II

Interlude for the survivor.

the pain means you’re alive
the scars mean
you’ve always survived

Whiskey Words & a Shovel II by r.h. Sin
Whiskey Words & a Shovel II by r.h. Sin is the author’s second collection of poetry. Mr. Sin is a minimalist when it comes to a biography — An old Facebook page, a closed Twitter account, and an Instagram account with plenty of pictures of his poems.

Sometimes great things happen by accident. I saw this book and immediately started it. A few years ago I read a similar sounding collection called The Shovel and The Hare and assumed this was the sequel. I was wrong but wrong in the best way.

Poetry, for many, is something that offers a warm embrace either with love, nature, or observations on life. Sin offers an embrace that is more of a bear hug, or a gentle tap with a 12lb hammer. As with his public biography, Sin is also a minimalist with his words. Many poems are a few lines but hit deeper than paragraphs or pages. Counterfeit love, loss, and pain run deep in this collection. But, it is not depressing; it is more of a sharing. For all the readers share the same experiences to some extent, the same feelings; you are not alone is the message. Sin gives the reader a blinding white light of emotion and awakens our own memories.

Sin gives advice perhaps it is selfish or maybe it is altruistic. Women must take charge of their lives stop being the person a man wants you to be. Start being the person you deserve to be. Be your own person not an attachment to a male. One might guess Sin is a woman proclaiming liberation, but Sin is male. Perhaps he is the man who has seen too many women he holds in esteem fall and fall again for the wrong person — Treated poorly, not appreciated, not allowed to be who they are.

There are a few “happy” poems. One I shared with a friend, who responded along the lines of true but facile. That reaction had me look again at the poem and the collection. I thought it was a clearing in the darkness of the collection, but after some thought, yes it did seem trite. Why does the happy poem seem so shallow compared to the depth of the others? My reflections took me to the opening line of Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Happiness seems to be the same. If someone is happy the reason is not important. Sadness or loss requires explanation. It sits deeper in our being and is not fleeting like happiness. Loss or death takes much longer to get past than happiness. People refer to moments of happiness and an eternity of struggle. We want happiness while we endure the struggles of life. We create mental and emotional records that last our entire lives. They are scars that offer proof that we endured and survived. Deeply emotional, dark, realistic, and a moving collection. Perhaps the most stimulating collection I have read in a long time.

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