An Angel’s Memorial Guide
by Stephen Zuckerman

"And when your eyes wide open shut.
The fragrant sadness overwhelms your senses.
Time stops its irrelevant beating, as the drums collide with sanity."

At its core, An Angel’s Memorial Guide is about coming to terms with death and using kindness, faith, and love to create an environment of healing and spiritual peace. Many of the poems in this compilation are followed by Zuckerman’s commentary. Rather than present a direct translation of his poems, however, he provides introspective insights into his relationship with his late 23-year-old son. Beyond the engaging style, what makes these poems compelling is the clear vulnerability, authenticity, and grace that exudes from each piece.

From the beginning, there is an almost Gabriel Garcia Marquez-type of magical realism feel with the various dream sequences. The meditative aura that emanates from much of this collection can be captured in the stunning, almost celestial image of the white-ribbon, sandy beach glowing from the rays of the setting sun in the introduction. In poems like “Then Darkness Came,” the full spectrum of emotions have run their course, and the author conveys the “acceptance” stage—the final goodbye to a loved one. More spectacular in imagery, poems like “Friendships” and “Independence Day” dazzle as they juxtapose the fireworks of the material universe with the endless eruption of lighting in the cosmos. In both, the common theme is freedom, peace, and healing, which, not coincidentally, is on par with Zuckerman’s outlook on death.

The meditative nature of the poetry shifts towards prayer and effective biblical references in “Spinning Tops,” and “Psalm 23,” among others. However, the most universal, and perhaps the most difficult poems to write, “In Memoriam” and “A Dad is Forever” are both likely to strike the heartstrings and add perspective on how one communicates with the departed soul after death. The vivid imagery in Zuckerman's prose is unquestionably a draw, but it is his unique outlook and acceptance of life’s ultimate truth, death, that makes this compilation a “have on your bookshelf” read.

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