How is relationship drama given levity? Through Hawkenson's hilarious descriptions of physical desire. Lovers in bed are compared to a dryer set on tumble. The man's hotness is related to the hissing steam of a grandmother's radiator. Wanting to devour each other like a Thanksgiving turkey. The empty holes in a hunk of cheese are their inner longings for fulfilling love.
At times, it seems that the love story is told out of order. Questions arise such as: Did the two know each other in high school? Was the man married before? Is he still married when he begins the relationship with the woman? Is the man still living with his wife while sleeping with the woman? Does the woman eventually become the man's second wife? Is the man in a hospital dying of lung cancer? The progression through the 100 poem collection appears to be linear, but some pieces of the poetic narrative don't seem to follow a chronological order.
There are stand-outs among the pack.
- "Can I Borrow A Pencil?" is a great image of schoolboy showing his feelings for a girl by giving her a hard time: You stepped on it intentionally, all for the want of a room full of giggles distracting others from realizing you loved me.
- "The Crack" shows the first moment in doubting a lover's fidelity: I couldn't tell you when it sprouted through the frozen earth the rock solid foundation of our partnership that seed of doubt.
- "The Teller" describes the solidarity of women as casualties of love: ...so she repeated "Congratulations" and just then I wondered if the pain of divorce like the pain of childbirth is forgotten when the next hope for the new life comes along.
- "Saturday at the Farmers' Market" compares a farmer's tan to a man's finger missing a wedding band: ...but the white line of your finger where you have removed our ring, lies about your futile effort.
Hawkenson admits that she does not follow any particular rules when composing poetry. She writes as the spirit moves her, even if it takes her to some unusual places.
- Contemplating the beauty, not the mess, of broken eggs in "Over Easy."
- The sentimental post-coital statement, "My DNA is all over you" in "Call Me Cell."
- Feeling admiration for the buttery popcorn public display of affection of an overweight couple in "All I Want."
- Heartache as "discolored and chunked" vomit in "When I've Had Too Much."
- Devotion as a towering mountain of folded underwear in "Stiff as a Board."
- All words being with the letter d in "Dating Dilemma" including dude, damn and diarrhea.
The final poem "Existing After Our Love Dies" leaves the status of the couple's relationship unresolved. Do they get back together? Are they now pursuing a purely physical relationship free of a marital bond? Is an unexpected night of passion a mistake? It is up to the reader to decide.
Overall, desire and disgust aptly describe this collection of poetry.
Magnetic Repulsion by Patricia A. Hawkenson is available for $12.95 at Amazon.com and at Expressive Domain.
Congratulations to our winner: Wayne Hurlbert!