Time 4 Healing: Make It Make Sense
by Jasper “Mr. Horse” Manning

"I haven’t forgotten what it took
To be where I am today."

Within an array of 151 works offered here, poet and philosopher Manning seeks to remind readers that they are not alone and that their suffering is known, shared, and can be healed. His book is arranged in four parts, initially guiding his audience to “See the Healing.” This segment opens with an exposure of “The Great White Lie,” a reminder that Jesus, according to the Bible, had “hair of wool, skin of bronze.” Yet white people have gradually found means of “lightening his skin, straightening his hair” and portraying Jesus as one of them. Manning compares the needed healing process for fellow Blacks and anyone in need of it to the tears of angels who “weep for us all.” Subsequent chapters emphasize “The Healing Touch” and invite readers to smell and taste the healing. He depicts “The Best Sleep in the World” in a variety of possibilities, such as on a sandy beach or in a car while someone else is driving, with the best being the sleep of children that is “without worry or care.”

Some offerings are personal, specific yet symbolic, as when in “Black Forget-Me-Nots” he expresses his determination “never to forget” the sacrifices made by black people and the treatment they received: “hanged by the neck from trees.” Several poems express sensual experiences with his wife, making it clear that they are equals in the process. In a particularly pointed poetic essay, “It Could Have Been Me,” he purveys his gratitude that he did not grow up extremely poor or lacking good role models, that he is not in prison, not addicted, and “not falsely accused and abused.” Recalling his service “In the United States Air Force,” he boldly declares, “I fought for a country / That didn’t fight for me.” The collection concludes with Manning’s highly emphasized advice: fiery ”Final Thoughts.” Among these is the powerful admonition to “Always leave things better than you found them!”

Manning, an educator and business owner, served in the USAF and the Texas Air National Guard and has been writing for nearly thirty years, having created a large stock of poems over that time. This latest work is the third in a series, with previous volumes revolving around religious issues and American crises arising in 2020. This current collection—part memoir, part widely gathered wisdom of the way the world works—includes a poignant prose narrative about an incident in his professional life in which “an adult had to learn a lesson from a student about human dignity.” Manning’s verses, most rhyming in ABAB format, enhearten and inspire across many aspects of human life and spiritual truth. Throughout, the poet’s humility and willingness to learn are evident, yet his strength is always at play as he urges readers to heal themselves of all torments, to step out, speak out, and perhaps find their own inner poet. His powerfully posited perspective as a Black American can surely inspire others of any race to grasp the true meaning of the country’s history and current upheavals and to begin searching for ways to make the nation the best place it can and should be.

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