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Loren Kleinman’s third poetry collection, Breakable Things, is a brave reaction to the harsh realities that often lead us down the dark path of loneliness in our search for authentic love. From abusive relationships to relationships that we do not want to lose or do not want to accept, this collection reveals that our hearts can break just as easily as a wine glass or a cupboard full of dishes. The perspective is often in the first person, a tribute to Kleinman’s bravery as well, for there is no braver writer than one willing to expose themselves to the world, a literary nakedness if you will, and Kleinman does this beautifully, neither with malice nor grievances, but with compassion and understanding.

 

In the opening poem, “Breakable Things,” from which Kleinman’s new collection takes its title, pushes us head first into the harsh world of loneliness. She writes:

 

Day after day,

I sit in the kitchen,

eating, smoking, drinking

alone.

 

I’m the only girl in the world,

hiding in cabinets

next to the breakable things.

 

 

Loneliness can be a symptom of depression. We often try to escape the pain it delivers by resorting to drugs and alcohol. In the poem, “Stuck on Atlantic between 3rd and Bond,” Kleinman writes, “I am horny now/and want a man to fill me.” Instead, it is only “a sip” (of what I assume to be wine, since it is referenced throughout the collection) and “a dusting of coke” that fills her. She is so distraught not finding true love, that she wants “…to forget about love/all 220 pounds of it.” It is as if, “You’re on the hunt/for something unknown/You want it,” as her poem, “Play of the Duede,” discloses, but you have to “travel to another world” to find it.

But we often find ourselves in dangerous or even deadly situations. We might, out of desperation, accept an abusive partner or, in extreme cases, take our own life. In the poem, “He Throws the Hot Kettle at Me from Across the Table,” Kleinman writes, “It burns/Skin is a hot bed.” And then, “His hands come/and choke my neck/cuts off my breath.” And finally, “Air, I want air/Breathe, breathe. And in the poem, “Past Love,” Kleinman reveals a destructive result of a friend’s unfortunate decision to commit suicide: “And I couldn’t get there in time/to cover your eyes and the head/from the gun.”

 

But all is not lost. Loneliness can be conquered. For Kleinman, dialogue is the starting point on our journey to escape the cabinets of loneliness. In her poem, “The Past is a Full Room,” Kleinman writes, “talking about love/and you fall into it head first.” Kleinman assures us that our hearts are resilient and strong and, with the right attitude, we can crawl out of the darkness into the light of authentic love. She admits that the journey is a tough one. We will, all of us, experience hardships, whether it is the death of a friend or the cruel and surprising actions of someone we trust. However, if we forgive those that have hurt us, if we persevere and overcome our own weaknesses, the darkness will fade away. We might have to sleep in many beds to know true love, as the poem, “The Beds I Slept In” suggests, but our battered hearts, one day, will be rectified. In fact, the poem, “Keep Smiling,” guarantees it:

 

You look through the night

towards something you see,

and you recognize it

in front of you…

 

Breakable Things is an honest assessment of the hardships of a lonely life. Blunt yet sensitive, they penetrate the heart and guarantee that, if we continue bravely on our journey to discover authentic love, we will find it. This is an impressive achievement.

 

Matthew Hamilton holds a Master of Fine Arts from Fairfield University and is a three time Pushcart Prize nominee His chapbook, The Land of the Four Rivers, published by Cervena Barva Press, won the 2013 Best Poetry Book from Peace Corps Writers. He lives in Richmond, VA. You can contact him here: http://matthewahamilton.com/.

 

 

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Published Mar 25, 2015 - Comments Off on Matthew Hamilton reviews Loren Kleinman’s Breakable Things

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