Jeffery Beam, The Broken Flower
116p. ISBN 978-1-907489-13-6
In The Broken Flower poet Jeffery Beam journeys beyond merely human stories into the radiant IS―the I AM hidden in earthly shadows and gleaming foliage and skies. Poems written over several decades coalesce 'not just to say / this or / that / But ... to say / what is between.' In their 'words' melancholic / swarm' Beam finds human feeling in Nature's broad manifest, a world ripe with anniversaries―of the bobwhite, the copperhead, owls, tree frogs, deer, apples and persimmons, mountain fogs and river rhythms, Monet, Cathar spirits, Paracelsus, Lazarus, and falling stones―affirming that 'there is a reason for being here / ... however / it insinuates itself into you.' The Broken Flower, Emersonian in its scope and wisdom, seeks not the perfect, but the infinite in the quotidian, the 'unrestrainable / heart' within 'the last place we would think / to look //... in the discarded shattered world,' where the stem-less flower proves to be 'the most perfect flower' because it is broken. These poems fulfill William Carlos Williams' maxim of writing for 'the pursuit of beauty, and the husk that remains.' The Broken Flower is a beautiful work, in which the awkward, the broken, and the common welcome the reader with verity, wholeness, and grace.
Praise for Jeffery Beam:
The poems in Jeffery Beam's The Broken Flower call out to be shared. They make the reader want to exclaim to anyone nearby, "Here, read this! Relish this image. Savor these memorable lines: 'This tree / whose fruit / opens a window / into the earth's old voice.'" The earth's old voice is everywhere in these poems. Like windows opening, Beam's music calls us to come here. Like a tendril of honeysuckle, both delicate and durable, his poems unfold on the page. They bring to their readers, in the sheaf of this beautifully crafted book, nothing less than a gift.
Kathryn Stripling Byer
The oblique poems in The Broken Flower (as Emily says: 'Tell all the Truth but tell it slant') circle around the heart of the matter. Jeffery Beam zones in, searching to decode mysteries 'to say / what is between.' And he discovers such rare moments as 'The skink: / electric fellow / listening for the goldfinch / waiting for the ant's / civilized caravans to return.'
Jeffery Beam's The Broken Flower shows him once more to be a master of the precise word. Language cascades down the page with a grace and sense of inevitability that only the true poet can accomplish. Whether focused on a painting or a friend, Beam brings into language a dazzling clarity. He sees the world the way it is.
Jeffery Beam's newest collection of poems, The Broken Flower, invites the reader to enter Beam's world through Smoky Mountain mists parting to reveal the 'dearest freshness deep down things.' Resisting every attempt to exhaust the crucial work of naming, The Broken Flower is the power of words to disrobe, to run and rest, to float on icy streams, to hang sere and healing in hot Appalachian barns. These poems return the reader to a true Eden, one both redeemed and fallen; the only possible Paradise where the first breath could have uttered the first word. The Broken Flower is testament and legacy to that breathing word and its lasting generation.
A true Southern Gentleman, Jeffrey Beam's quietly moving, spiritual and deeply human poems in The Broken Flower succeed in their attempt 'to say what is / between.' Whether looking at the world around him or contemplating works of art, Beam's explorations of the connection between man and nature, art and life, body and soul helps us to find beauty, joy, and meaning both within ourselves and 'In the discarded / shattered world.' I am grateful for the life-affirming vision of these finely crafted poems.
Jeffery Beam is a master of observation, of slowing down, of reading for pleasure. He brings us anti-chatter as a sort of balm. A fly, with its 'green puddle of inner antagonisms'; the ability to wonder of flies if 'their soul's wit is as delicate as ours' takes a special mind, a mind capable of acrobatics sorely lacking in the general populace. There was the time I spoke with Jeffery on the phone, his sonorous voice, such a relief to hear that a poet has a poet's voice. If you ever get the chance, call him. Or just dip in and read parts of The Broken Flower out loud to yourself: 'When notes break from / the red / poppies' purple throats.'
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