The book, published by BTS (Between These Shores) Books in Sheffield, England, is slender with a full color watercolor illustration on the front cover of blue-purple roses with green petal-leaves atop a dreamy watercolor splotched purple and blue background.
On the back cover there are blurbs praising the book by BTS Books, Rachel Kendall (Editor, Sein und Werden), L. Ward Abel (Author, Peach Box and Verge, Jonesing for Byzantium), and Gary Gray (Editor, Global Inner Visions).
On the front cover the title is typed in a sans serif script and displayed toward the bottom of the cover, arranged with line breaks to give the look of a few lines of a poem.
The Skywriting in the Minor Key portion of the title brings to mind various images. I think of an airplane in the sky spelling out a message with its exhaust fumes (or whatever type of smoke they use to skywrite) while a sad song plays in the background. Maybe the message in the sky is a sad one, or a wistful one?
I imagine Mozart’s Requiem being played on a piano and with each note a letter of smoke puffs out of the piano and into the sky.
I imagine that I can touch the clouds and use my finger to write out thoughts that people can see and read when they walk down the street, while maybe “Rex tremendae majestatis” can be heard playing in the distance.
I imagine a canvas painted black with finger smears exposing the white canvas.
Inside is a collection of poems that starts with birth and ends with a first flight to England, with glimpses of Brooklyn in between.
The language, like the cover illustration, is colorful and dreamy. With inventively descriptive lines of verse— “spread like a bride, surrendered, storm-wasted” (page 62), “cat-spitting wind” (page 32), “like so many forged blackbirds from a tempered steel pie” (page 37), “my music is pierced, left bleeding in staccato tears” (page 84)— each poem serves as a miniature time capsule for a moment in the speaker’s life.
In the poem “East Side Birds” (page 42), we read an allegory about the rise and fall of a banded dove “all pristine feathers, effervescently cooing at just the right times.” It’s a tale of popularity, and its short shelf life. We see the bird go from perching “demurely where everyone could see” to a bird worn out by time, “the years had stained her smashing feathers with city soil and deepened her cooing to a throaty whisper.”
In the past, the “wiser birds of lesser plumage” would crane “their necks for crumbs of approval and suffered rejected heads to lower shyly to their breasts,” but now this bird who was once admired above all is reduced to sheltering herself in doorways from the rain and eyeing the speaker, a crow, “with contempt, prattling on about friends and escapades of which I’d never been a part.”
The speaker however, escapes this conversation with her former peer by raising her “gleaming, black crow feathers and proudly soared a free-flying retreat, to the triumphant heavens of redeemed girls who’d finally gained their wings.”
Peaking early and the curse of high-school popularity are popular themes, but Geraghty makes it fun by writing a poem about birds. Birds probably have popularity contests amongst themselves. Haven’t you ever been to a park where people throw bread crumbs in order to attract pigeons and sparrows? The sparrows have it the hardest, I think, because they’re the littlest and the starlings and pigeons have ways of bullying them around. Sparrows are the underdogs, which is why I love them and always make sure they get their crumbs. Crows and ravens are pretty gangster. I see them crossing the street, looking both ways for traffic before hopping across the road, jay-walking. Crows and ravens keep it real.
Geraghty’s work reminds me of Beat poetry, but I feel like she also invokes the spirit of the lyrical ballads of the Romantics. The Beat influence is real, as Geraghty studied creative writing under Beat Generation poet/publisher Daisy Aldan.
Pretty painted poems.
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