Without pretense, with the clarity of William Stafford, these poems embrace a wide-ranging
reach in subject matter expressed lyrically with original juxtapositions of ideas
and words. The voice in these poems pays homage to the past, the present.
In Four Ravens, Gary Lee Entsminger shares poems about his youth in Virginia, his
journeys, and his present life in the mountains of southwestern Colorado. And as
a record of significant memories, these poems attest to the author’s awareness of
the fleeting nature of experience.
Summer of ’74 he traveled with the band
wore tee shirt and blue jeans like the other guys
climbed scaffold to place speakers in the Wall of Sound
happy for the job yet already beginning to understand
none of this would happen again
Time moves in only one direction. Yet, from an early memory of looking down on
the small town
tucked below /
steepled and shimmering
with all you didn’t know
in the distance
to an obviously more recent one where men
in the evening sat on the porch /
once it was cool enough
and watched the breeze and shade
easing summer heat with conversation
the poems in Four Ravens offer a sense of having come full circle—from experience
to memory to all we can know of a life.
If you’re tired of guessing poets’ minds, you’ll welcome these clearly marked, deeply
anchored poems. Like a good guide, Entsminger is never more than a few steps ahead,
making sure you don’t fall from the stones across the flowage, the currents of which
sometimes threaten to topple you. You’ll stop to look the way you’ve come, like the
woman in “Before Crossing,” to reorient and prepare for what’s ahead. Another poem
has it exactly right: “Stories that determine us.” And as in another favorite poet’s,
Nancy Willard’s, work, questions are asked, the answers to which surprise, delight,
and help to “develop a soul.” And always, always, accompanied by masterly musical
diction, so the words’ tunes embed. Not surprising, given that Entsminger has for
many a year made and played music on a variety of instruments.
So much else to say (e.g. everyone should have an Aunt Jean!); so much I’d like to
quote (e.g. “it was always the two of us / under the grand piano I was never alone
/ Mom was always playing” – Rilke must be smiling, too: see his “Memories of a Childhood”!).
A last regret: Frost, who is said to have put a gun on the kitchen table between
his kids and told them to choose between their mom and him, won’t read “Counter Intuitive,”
a poem that should be framed on many a kitchen wall for many a family…
—Stuart Friebert, author of Decanting: Selected & New Poems
ALSO BY GARY LEE ENTSMINGER:
Remembering the Parables(2010): Using the ancient Art of Memory to remember the
parables of Jesus. (7.5"x9.25" paperback, black and white paintings, 160 pages, $18.00).
Gary Lee Entsminger is a writer, naturalist, and computer programmer. He has written nine programming books; over 100 scientific and technical articles; and computer software that helps scientists understand patterns of biodiversity and biogeography. His books written with Susan Elliott Entsminger—Fall of ’33, Ophelia’s Ghost, and Remembering the Parables—intertwine fiction, philosophy, history, poetry, and art. Four Ravens follows his first book of poetry, Two Miles West.
Fall of ’33(2013): A sequel to Ophelia's Ghost, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains
in 1933. (6"x9" paperback, 214 pages, $17.00).