Breakup/Breakdown – Poems by Charles Jensen (Five Oaks Press, $12.99, 42 pages)
Can one find hope in poems of heartbreak and loss?
This is a fascinating chapbook of poems by Charles Jensen. These are poems about heartbreak and loss. After all, we lose things in life, like people and laptops and places:
I understand that/purpled anger in her/face, the way she’s/aware she was/just a pitstop in/someone else’s/marriage. To know/you are not/the one, but just another one.
These are also poems about disruption, the kind that comes with rapid change, with the shedding of the present for the future:
Disruption/is the pulling apart of two independent lives. A rupture/but I didn’t know it until it was too late. Everything we’d placed/inside those years spilled out/like blood escaping from a vein./Love, my friends, should never/be entrusted to the heart, whose job/is to push away the only thing/the world will ever offer it.
(Disruption, previously published in HIV Here + Now.)
Jensen understands that life is about accepting the changes that are beyond our control:
We shake our lives loose like a braid/untwirling at the end of a long day/I want everything and nothing that belongs to you…
And finally, there’s the notion of place. A place is ours, if only for a transitory period. We occupy a space for a moment, like time travelers:
I move into a one bedroom overlooking Glassell Park and/the Los Angeles Rivers and the 5 and the hills of Echo Park/between Division and Future streets. Division runs drunk/through the neighborhood, splitting Mount Washington/into two separate lives. Future Street rises straight up the face,/turns sharply and then goes down to just one lane, a 90 degree/curve and, from time to time, gets lost in the spaghetti of streets/only to reappear suddenly on the far side of the hill, shunning/drivers with its abrupt end in a one-way alley. The apartment/gets a lot of light, and at night the yellow glow of porch lamps/and street lamps dot the dark landscape like a pattern for the/Lite Brite I played with as a child, plugging in plastic pegs to make/something beautiful appear…
(Between Division and Future Streets, previously published in Diode.)
I very much enjoyed reading and rereading these poems by Charles Jensen, whom I feel I now know as a friend. If the world is something we cannot fathom, we can understand a fellow traveler who is headed down the same highway in search of peace, comfort and understanding.
A review copy was received from the publisher.
Charles Jensen is a graduate of Arizona State University, and is the Director of the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.