"Poem for Bob" - Aralee Strange
If I said I saw you dressed in a long coat
mingling with other angels dressed similarly
on the mezzanine of the public library
who would believe me?
If I said it was proof you got your heavenly due
eternity among books
am I nuts or was it a dream
something I saw in a movie?
Is this what they mean by blind faith?
I have rattled your bones.
I know where your earthly remains lie
and whose hearts broke when you died
and took off flying straight to glory.
I tried to pray.
I tried to say goodbye.
I groped rock bottom and mortal
found no way to accept your disappearing.
I stare at the picture of you again
and our friend Arthur reading there
in the cold white light of Christmas past
the last page of a book poetry no doubt
but that was then and you are not and
what took you and why is not the point.
How can life comprehend oblivion?
But if I said that was you transfixed in ethereal
spirit free amongst flocking celestials
floating happily ever after for all time
pure cloud across a blue sky
I’d be right wouldn’t I?
While widely published in literary journals during her lifetime, marks the first overview of the late Aralee Strange’s poetic works. It is a tour de force that moves from the urban blight of 1980’s Cincinnati Main Street to the pastoral solitude of Adams County, OH to the Southern charms of Athens, GA while remaining forever rooted in the heart of America, exploring in equal measure the implied complexity of its inherent beauty and tragic flaws. Her unmistakable, even voice simultaneously pitched between Old Testament scripture and The Street, these tough, restless poems aspire to and attain a clarity of language and personal spirituality. Included in is her seminal poem cycle, “dr. pain on main,” which captures the total fabric of city life, its complications and many textures, as well as the meditative poem-psalms that she composed on Peach Mountain in Adams County, Ohio that led Strange to write and direct her feature film, . also includes art by Jay Bolotin, Frederick C. Ellenberger,Kathy Prescott, Michelle Red Elk, Art Rosenbaum, Mary Seguinand Jim Wainscott, each piece inspired by Strange’s life and work. Edited and with an afterword by Mark Flanigan, and with a foreword by Pauletta Hansel, the poems in seek truth in all of its hiding places, much like its author.