The Dark Months of May

by Tom Pickard. 68 pages. $12.95. Flood Editions, P.O. Box 3865, Chicago, Illinois, 60654-0865 www.floodeditions.com

Book Review by

Few poets, I think, can appeal to more than one of the many poetry camps that exist in our poetry nation. Fewer, I think can appeal directly to the aesthetics of small press poetry, demanding candid encounter with social ills, social class and with its demand that poetry not reside solely in academia and the academic avant garde whose superstars include Robert Creeley and the late Allen Ginsberg. However, Tom Pickard seems to do this. Any reader has to read in awe because Pickard writes a most working class accessible yet most decidedly measured and artful poetry. He can read in a bar to a bunch of miners just off shift or to a classroom full of eggheads and come out with free drinks from both crowds. By the way, he is not Tom Pickard who is the Tom Pickard who is the deputy head of the FBI. This Tom Pickard lives on the boarder between England and Scotland. He dropped out of school at 16, held any number of jobs, attracted the attention the British poet Basil Bunting who liked his anti-(stuffy)-poetic establishment point of view and created a poetry from the cadences of the British workin people. Author of 10 substantial books of poems, the latest is his The Dark Months of May (which is blurbed by Annie Lenox) and the poems within chronicle the end of a marriage. Let me give some examples, from the poem: Denial is a River in Egypt:

god I'm easy, a pushover
for anyone with wine, a spliff,
a condom in her bag

I say no thanks and
half a bottle later
we're on the nest 

and from his poem The Dark Months of May: 

agitated 
I spin a glass
until it
hits my ring

I wont take if off
until you do

A collection of the pain of losing love poems this collection pokes the deep crevices of open hurt in each person whose hand has fallen out of another’s. I can’t recall when I last wrote highly recommended, so let’s go: highly recommended. Add terrific.