XI: A Collection of Poetry on Being Human
by Andrew Joseph Zaragosa, Jr.
Author Reputation Press

"Start now. Not only life, but everything, is too short for you to dwell."

Equipped with a background in psychology and mental health counseling, Zaragosa crafts his work to serve simultaneously as a call to seize life by the reins and a fond remembrance of the poet’s own formative years. With life increasingly becoming a fleeting experience, his compilation calls for audiences to slow down, take risks, and appreciate the small moments that form the essence of humanity.

Exhibiting a strong narrative structure, the poems often feel like they’re speaking directly to the individual and acting as street lamps to light the way when darkness descends and illuminate the path down memory lane. In “Catching FIshes,” for example, the speaker reminisces upon the serenity of fishing trips and juxtaposes the splendor of the sun slowly making its way beyond the horizon with the imagery of peacocks in the street and a burgeoning father-son bond whose memory is unlocked by the song that the speaker’s father would always play after school. At the same time, Zaragoza’s command of poetic devices is apparent, with poems like “Dive” emphasizing alliteration to magnify the evocative feelings of the phrases “tears when I asked for truth” and “silence when I asked for sympathy.”

While the poems are succinct, the poet’s ability to pace them almost lyrically helps with the energetic flow transferring from one poem to another, connecting all the ones about hope and struggle together like an intricate, inseparable tapestry of the human spirit. In particular, visceral images compare fire with the molten rampage of Pompeii. Similarly, the phrase “if the lights didn’t go out” represents death in “ A Play of Pretend.” Ultimately, Zaragoza’s work engages readers at a higher level, inspiring a redirection toward living a full and complete life.

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