Poetry Review — Pardon My Heart


Pardon my Heart by Marcus Jackson is a collection of urban poetry. Jackson teaches in the MFA program at Ohio State University. His previous collections are Rundown and Neighborhood Register.

From the first poem ”Bass” the poet explains his roots from ground shaking bass that penetrates my walls and continuing to street fighting. It is a rough life and one not free of danger that most of us enjoy. There is maturity that many, everywhere, do not gain in their years. ”To the Love Gods” shows thankfulness to gods that many choose to ignore or just leave to chance.

The second part of this collection deals with grow up in the blue collar world — clothing stained by machinery and factors ready to cut men down. Happy times are marred with violence. However, local fish are caught in local waters, cleaned, and served for dinner. School and young life, both good and bad, trickles into working life and a sense of responsibility. The poetry then moves to more adult issues of relationships and city life with a fitting tribute to the poet Philip Levine. The final section is dedicated to young married life. From buying a ring to his wife’s asthmatic breathing during sleep a full maturity evolves into being.

An extremely well-written collection poetry that rises from the depths of society. Many references are easily relatable, for me at least. I grew up about a hundred miles east of Jackson and our towns were quite similar. There is a refined style to Jackson’s writing that is usually not found in urban writing. Perhaps it is a tribute to the past from someone who rose above his environment. Although the writing is refined it still captures the challenges and pitfalls of urban life; it is not sanitized but rather clarified for all to see. A very well done collection and very well worth the read.

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