REVIEW: Helium by Rudy Francisco
Gather your mistakes,
rinse them with honesty
let dry until you
can see every choice
and the regret
that you are human
and this too
is a gift.
There are a lot of great, thought-provoking poems in this little book. I liked it a lot and wished there was more to read and think about. I highlighted many parts and would definitely recommend this.
I had some small issues. The poems are divided into four sections, but it read like those dividers didn't matter at all. As if they didn't exist and this was just a book of poems without organisation. Sometimes I noticed themes, but then they came back in other places when I thought they were already done. I couldn't tell you what my favourite part was, because it feels pretty jumbled.
There was a poem I interpreted to be about sex with a woman outside of a romantic relationship which ended with "most men are proud of things like this." For a collection that shows in other works to be against toxic masculinity, I felt this was too much of a generalisation. Too much of a divide between "normal men" and the "good guys." But, as mentioned, this is just my interpretation, and it's that specific interpretation and the meaning I attach to it I didn't like.
The poem To the Man Standing on the Corner Holding the Sign That Said "God Hates Gays" also had both great and questionable lines. Mainly the use of mental illnesses or medical issues as description for something bad didn't sit well with me. I'm still debating if the ableism in that will make me change my rating to 3 stars.
I noticed, in this collection and the other modern poetry collections I recently read, that poems about love (or more specifically, loss of love and heartbreak) don't really make me feel anything. I'm relatively indifferent towards them. So those, again, didn't blow me away, but the others were great. And that's obviously an "it's not you, it's me" thing.
I loved the hope in a lot of the poems. The imagery of repurposed guns and grenades. The flowers and the sun. The mildness you are allowed to treat yourself with. And some poems made me feel like a summer day with friends.
The poem I quoted above will be part of my new years' resolutions. The self-reflection and the growth that can come from it, but also the forgiveness. I can't wait to read this poem again in a year and feel the progress I made.
A great collection talking about hope, love, race, culture, and more, with an honest sense of critique and self-reflection.
Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.