Blue Collar Poet by G. Emil Reutter
(StoneGarden.net Publishing, Danville, CA, 2009)
Here’s a poem from G. Emil Reutter’s Blue Collar Poet:
surrounded by fruit
tongue glides along
that is inside
nothing is quite
like a creamsicle
on a hot summer day
What did you think? Did you think what I thought when I first read it?
Am I the only one with a dirty mind here? Aaaaah, now you get it. Chuckle.
(I did think the second line is unnecessary but to each hir own…)
Anyway, there’s a deceptive slyness in many of these poems that heighten the pleasure they offer. Pleasure is critical since these poems are written in a straightforward manner, clear on their goal of simply sharing an experience that, in turn, hopefully engages the reader. Here’s a poem written as if it’s a casual aside, but which delivers its message with meaningful impact:
Have you ever thought
Of all the insects you have killed?
A spider, ants, roaches, even caterpillars.
They could number in the thousands,
All these lives you have taken
With a simple stomp or squish.
Think hard and think long:
For no matter how many you kill,
When you are six feet under
The insects always win in the end.
Yes, there'll be (inevitably, as this is about living!) the philosophical turn. Some attempts are more effective than others. Here’s one I like:
Scrambling eggs in the frying pan
Heat turned up on high
Eggs begin to stick
Yellow turning to brown
Scraping them out into the trash can
Crack a few more open
Trying once again to learn
How not to get burnt
When the heat is on high
Mostly, I enjoyed the humor of/in many poems. Matter of fact, humor may be the collection’s strength. Here’s one that made me cackle to myself:
I saw her across the bar
The distance not so far
She smiles and winks
Tapping her empty glass
I send her a drink over
She waves thank you
As her date arrives
Lucky guy, I think
Then again, maybe not
As for “Blue Collar”? Apparently the title comes from an encounter with a “gentleman” who described Reutter as such when the poet said he’s self-taught. Self-taught, however, is not the same thing as “blue collar.” But, anyway, so are these “blue collar” poems? Well, I found the matter irrelevant, actually. I found more relevant the collection’s huge-hearted charm.
Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects as she's its editor, but she is pleased to point you elsewhere to reviews of her books. Her newest book SILK EGG: Collected Novels is reviewed by Zvi A. Sesling in Boston Area Poetry Scene; by Michael Leong in Big Other; by Alan Baker in Litter; and by rob mclennan. Stephen Hong Sohn also reviews SILK EGG along with two other books, NOTA BENE EISWEIN and FOOTNOTES TO ALGEBRA: Uncollected Poems 1995-2009 at Asian American Lit Fans.