please don't ask
by Lyman Ditson
Balboa Press

"some love to read my poetry,
happiness given to those who've read,
I once gave a poem for one to see,
but he said I should be a clerk instead."

Unlike many writers who have succumbed to the lure of poetry from their youth, Ditson came to the craft well into adulthood. However, the quality of his verse indicates he was born to express himself in this way. With poems that feature everything from quirky humor to tear-invoking sentiment, this eclectic collection highlights both the skill and depth of a maturing poet.

The author begins his book with the title piece, a poem which appears at first to be struggling with a forced rhyme scheme. However, it soon becomes clear that there is nothing forced in Ditson's work, and by the second poem, "dome of green," the poet shrugs off conventional meter and rhyme with a free verse selection that quietly proclaims that Ditson has some profound thoughts to share. From then on, whether the poems follow classic poetic patterns or fling themselves on the page completely unfettered by a standard form, they all create an impression.

Ditson offers up a variety of moods in his verse. Some pieces seem to be almost intentional doggerel, whimsical ditties designed for nothing more than to bring a smirk or a small chuckle. Others, such as the heart-wrenching "Dear Brother," pierce the soul with a vicarious grief. Poems like "dark factories," resonating with angry social commentary, share space with wry, self-aware ones such as "Lumpy" and thought-provoking musings on death and aging like the haunting poem "finally."

A strong spiritual undercurrent also flows through much of the book, but the author has deliberately included a wide range of secular poems to create a healthy balance. The author may have come late to the poetry party, but he definitely has brought some tasty tidbits to sample. To quote Oliver Twist, "more, please."

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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