Shadow Work
by Daniel Warner
Lucid House Publishing

"I am a hole that is whole.
And still, I can be undone with a single word, which I am grateful for."

In Jungian psychology, the shadow self represents one’s fears, impulses, and repressions; in these emotive works, poet Warner dwells within, then understands and integrates with his shadow. In this three-part progression—Disintegration, Awareness, and Integration—some poems treat with Warner’s conflicted relationship with his father, opening with “Fissure in the Endless Maw” in which a fishing trip reveals his sense that he has “killed an angry child and opened its wound to the world,” with “Dad” symbolized as darkness. As awareness sets in, Warner opines in “Symbolic Language” that, “Remove names, and things are just things.” With integration, he realistically recalls his father’s shocking sins, yet finds comfort in a “Summer Night” by realizing, “Simply, I exist,” and contemplates a new year that “begins like a poem” in the piece “New Year, 2019: Captain of the Sadness Boat”.

With this debut collection, Warner deftly constructs free verse that can leave the reader hanging, haunted like its author, or resolve all problems in a few well-chosen words. He may make rational observations, such as that “Fall’s coming appears as a leaving” (from “Wayah Bald”), or plunge into verbal rhapsody: “Aureole of white moonlight stands next to reaching pines” (from “Sky Painted with Leaves”). As his shadow self, Warner seems truly disturbed, referring once to a companion’s head as an “island in fog” and creating a vivid, at times bitterly humorous encounter with Jack London in a bar, converting the famous creator of White Fang into a wolf and the poet’s wife into a wolfish female who has a roving eye. As Warner gradually emerges into awareness and integration, a colder portrait of “the man I’ve called father” emerges, combined with a quietly optimistic view of better experiences to come. Those who appreciate poems of subtle vision and deep, at times agonizing, self-exploration will savor Warner’s work.

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