Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Utility of Heart Break

Day 297 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and a number of people in central Illinois must be reading The Utility of Heart Break, a chapbook of poems by Charles Reynard, because it just came out from Pikestaff Press (Robert D. Sutherland, the local editor and publisher) and Reynard is a local judge.  His poems, not surprisingly, contain justice and compassion in equal measure.

And, probably not quite by coincidence, as producer Bruce Bergethon pays attention to these things, a poem from the book, "Juvenile Day," aired on WGLT Poetry Radio today.  Yes, I had a "driveway moment," or rather a parking place moment, behind Babbitt's Books, on my way to work this morning.  "Juvenile Day" is about juvenile court, and I've always liked this one for its handling, legally, and here, poetically, of "fault" and "responsibility."

To quote a few stanzas:

Wherefore, I find it is not your fault,
Danny, that you have Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder, Oppositional Defiant

Disorder, and R-O Bi-Polar illness.
Or that you are under the influence
of Depakote 500 mg, Zoloft 200 mg,

and Seroquel 40 mg.  But it is
your responsibility not to swallow
shampoo or thumbtacks, not to run

away, steal gas, shoplift matches
from Dollar General, and not to knife
your neighbor or your nurse during

the manic phase of your moon....

That's it, isn't it?  Some things are not our fault, but some things are still our responsibility.  A good judge knows the difference.

In Charley's chapbook, Heart Break is a small town in "a pear-shaped state, the name of which is regularly mispronounced by its own citizens."  But it is also a place to live in compassion and in tolerance, a place to learn acceptance, or a place to make important changes or die.  Some people die in Heart Break.  Some live and learn.  Some move, or are moved.  And that's the utility of heartbreak.

Image = album cover, Kanye West; if you want to preview "Welcome to Heartbreak," click Amazon here.


Julie Kistler said...

The Kanye cd is called 808s & Heartbreak, which also fits your crime theme, since I think the 808 he is referring to is disturbing the peace. I *think*. It may just be the drum machine. And I just typed that with one hand while holding my ice pack on my face. Not the result of crime -- just dentistry!

Kathleen said...

Yes, the title is there in small print at the bottom of the album image. But you can preview "Welcome to Heartbreak" and all the songs at Amazon! So sorry about the dental issue. Excellent one-handed typing!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Very glad I found this post as a "you might also like" for indeed I did. The title of the chapbook drew me in, as I wondered how one could unearth and tell of the utility of heart break. Noted for future exploration.

Kathleen said...

Marylinn, this is a lovely book. Do seek it out!