"The dream always begins the same
--the flaming torches and
then the sounds of:
running on the pavement,
fists pounding on doors,
glass breaking."

Dedicating this assortment of folk poems, old photos, and sketches to Prince, Judy Garland, and Elvis, Webb masterfully portrays the predicament of humanity as getting stuck in the clouds of wishes and fantasies in the quest of reaching the stars of genuine happiness. What begins with photos capturing themes such as acceptance in “Outsiders” and a strong family system in “Family” evolves into free verse, narrative folk poetry that both entertains and probes into the human mind.

Audiences will fondly settle in with Dakota, the golden retriever who predicts the outcome of St. Louis Cardinals games, while poems like “The lovely and innocent girl who became a high-priced whore in Chicago” depict the systematic breakdown of self-esteem and retreat into the clouds of fantasy as a means of respite and temporary healing. “The boy who dreams of flaming torches and breaking glass” is a poem that particularly stands out for its imagery of blood seeping down the window, which almost seems to represent an inescapable prison of the mind. Later in the compilation, the fear and the helplessness are further renewed through Webb’s own revelations.

Whether it’s a desire to be back in high school or biking down 15th street, there are numerous poems that share a wistful, nostalgic yearning for past experiences, perhaps those that provided the individual with comfort. Webb’s focus on mental health is never more apparent than in “The man who denied his wife was dead” where his fantasies of his wife’s well-being provide the coping mechanism necessary for him to get through life. The book concludes with notes of why Webb believes many get lost in the clouds while aspiring for the stars. At its core, this compilation is intriguing and heartfelt, a worthwhile experience.

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