I read my friend from Michigan’s book,
“Doll God,” over a period of days.
Luanne Castle heads off on some
interesting, curious, twisted paths
in numerous directions taken.
Natural, mystical and physical
worlds inexplicably melded,
in her 2015 prize-winning
book awarded by the ~
“New Mexico – Arizona
All found within a collection of
54 deeply moving, tense and
alternatively relaxing, poems.
I had wished to write with parts
of each poem originally to intrigue
and entice you with snippets
but we had to cut back
featuring several instead.
Partnering up with my mother,
past 30 year teacher of high school
English, World Literature and Spanish,
we tackled thought-provoking poems.
Floundering a bit in our lack of abstract-
thinking abilities, both more practiced
in concrete-level of comprehension.
Quick summaries may also
provide clues to what hidden
gems may lie underneath the
piles of pages, like leaves, which
hold both natural beauty and
fearsome memoir elements.
In “Prototype,” Castle explores how
dolls are loved and then later, taken
for granted. Sympathy lies with poor
headless doll, forgotten ties to past.
A natural poem, “From Both Sides,”
the mountain “falls away from itself”
with the “marrow” grasping for snow
as a parched person gasps for water.
The second set of passages center
on a stonecutter switching from man
to stone, feeling how a tool’s cut
may reach into inner self.
In “Caught” one feels emotional
attachment with a hummingbird
stuck within a garage. She wishes to
escape into sky while “stares at the
ceiling, waiting for it to part.”
The painter observing, wants to catch
her, “I’m not going to hurt you.”
But she has heard this before.
The pleasant ending is open
to interpretation of how
help is carried out.
“Vintage Doll Buggy” holds conundrum,
usage of scrap metal before 1930’s
and then totally different product
manufactured by same company.
In the poem, “Beneath the Art and
the Muse,” I spied a story of men
and women; allegory or metaphor?
The finale revelation felt like
women are firecrackers.
Memories of childhood flood
back in the form of school supplies
and other nostalgic details in,
“For the Doll Mistress.”
Home decorating samples and
add sewing basket, sprinkle
fairy magic of the doll mistress,
pink spangles and ribbons.
There are all doll varieties,
toys such as those yellow ducks.
“Hemmed In” choice words describe
seamstress as a household god,
with “needle-roughened fingers”
controlling the fabric while sewing.
“Supernova” explores explosion,
aftermaths of mudstorms,
death, bones of humans
commingled with bonobos.
Explanation of Time on Earth.
“Fishing” is a story told with
beauty, meaning and grace. It
changes time periods from a
Louvre painting of “Lisa” who
has her simple story woven along
with a baby brother and older
sister, mother and son, all whose
relationships may become apparent,
depending how open mind becomes.
Dolls facedown in mud
If you have ever experienced a
nightmare, “The Falling Dream”
will reach and pull out your
fears; as your pulse quickens.
“American Girl” held many truths
which resonated with me. A model
type doll’s life style convertible, heels,
complete with dream house, her
“impossible construction,” like
“Julie Newmar” of long, thin
legs, small waist, you know
and can picture this doll
with tiny, tip-toed feet with her
“blondeness” while “available in
shades of Asian and cotton candy.”
There are two poems with “Snow”
character references, with
only first name given.
“Snow Remembers an Old Tale,”
if my thoughts of mystery may
be true, a memory of someone
sneaking out into summer’s night.
Later, boy who may or may not have
connected with girl, covers her with
fallen leaves, as the seasons pass.
His knee upon her, along with
trying to unearth girl,
makes me concerned
for her beneath leaves.
“Snow’s Locked Box” has overhead
oak branches, referred to as,
Over the glass coffin clouds pass,
while theater references are made of,
“set, lights, sound surround the body.”
The deeper meaning behind the poem
seeps out in tone of words such as,
“her lips pressed together in a
show of force,” “decay ripens in
our nostrils,” and “not even
shadows insinuate” with
ground bare beneath
the girl (“Snow”).
Leaves “stay moist and rot”
when pushed down under.
The final poem I chose to
analyze, with help from Mom,
holds title of book and poem.
“Doll God” speaks of a boy doll, as
if he were made in writer’s image.
He is pulled out of a mirror.
Home is not typical, having rats
sleeping “under the stoop.”
Referred as “God” he has
American flag on jeans’ pocket,
“baby’s sour, wrinkled skin,”
dragging one foot, as if born
with a disability. Neither of us were
sure of purpose of notepad and
“a pen that sighed as it moved.”
There is much to be said of poetry
which forces you to ponder
and ruminate over meanings.
Luanne Castle, thank you for this
original, complex poetry collection!
~about Luanne’s book.
My Mom’s neighbor has the pretty
pictured doll in her mint-colored
Osh Kosh jumper, handful of
lollipops and straw hat on.
Photograph by Robin O. Cochran,
Review of “Doll God,” the combined
effort of mother and daughter.
I have mentioned to Mom’s friend,
Peggy, her doll reminds me
of my old “Little Miss Echo,”
biggest and once favorite doll.
She told us doll was bought
for only two dollars at a
country flea market.
Would you mind
sharing a doll,
toy or favorite
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