Listening to the Quiet
by Raymond Cooper
Trafford Publishing

"I wish I had kidnapped your smile
and painted it
more times than I did."

For a society that seems laser-focused on the bottom line, Cooper’s poetry is a refreshing reminder of the moments, no matter how minuscule, that make up a lifetime of memories. Fleeting time, generally depicted through the evolution of seasons, is a constant throughout the compilation. Throughout, the speaker’s escape from the endless chaos of the world often takes the vision of a walk down the beach, perhaps the epitome of freedom and love. Interestingly, there is a constant back and forth between nostalgic, romanticized poems like “Roma Street” and the more somber reality of death in “Morning.” Nevertheless, the perspective of both is from time—time lost, time to be lost, or time lived well.

Using his strong knack for imagery, Cooper showcases the allegory of night as a demon that must be battled daily. “Fighting Monsters” will especially stand out to audiences as the speaker acknowledges that demons exist, but we should pay them no mind, as “we can walk together.” On the contrary, the speaker encourages readers not to be resigned to giving their time away and to instead fill their time with whimsical experiences they would never think twice about in their youth, such as relishing walking in the rain or sitting in fountains.

While the prose and poetry are illuminating, there is an unusual depth to the photography, whether it is a snapshot of the wooded roads of winter, the footprints on the sandy beach, or a dive into a woman’s eyes. The title of Cooper’s work undoubtedly aligns well; even though one is listening to the quiet and stillness of the images, so much can be heard. By raising pertinent questions such as what is home and guiding readers to embrace their inner spirit, Cooper’s poetry is uplifting and thought-provoking, an enriching experience.

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