We Might Have By Gerald So

If we’re going to devote a lot of time here talking about ebooks, then we need to actually look at a few ebooks. So let’s have a look at a type of book I don’t normally read, that being poetry.

Former Thrilling Detective fiction editor and the brains behind the crime-themed poetry collection The Lineup, Gerald So, has put together a collection of his poetry around lost loves called We Might Have. Rather than long, flowery tomes about pouring one’s heart out, So has a spare, somewhat unconventional style. Most of the poems in this collection run less than a dozen lines, many five lines or less. There are five that stand out for me.

“My First Love” is an old story many of us have gone through. The speaker talks about calling or writing the love of his life everyday, only to reveal in the last line that “You couldn’t wait to get away.” Then there’s “Wet Dream,” which is not exactly what the title implies. It describes a confession of love that ends in a wine-soaked spit take.  “Paperback Lover” looks at the people we pursue through the metaphor of books. Hardcovers are expensive and often out of reach. Library books are free, but have been around. Paperbacks, So points out, are cheap and easy.

“Four Weeks Before the Wedding” describes how a phone call might be a jilted couple upset over the speakers regrets he cannot attend the wedding. Turns out the bride butt dialed him. How many poems end with a line about butt dialing? Of course, does anyone butt dial anymore in these days of touchscreen phones?

Probably the most poignant is “A Courtship in Cuts,” in which a barber describes a customer who’s met a girl, proposes over time, then loses her. Through each stage of the courtship, the man asks for a different haircut, but in the end has “grayed ten years/in three months.”

All these poems contain a pang of regret, and there’s something most people can identify with, that one love who got away. Short and sweet.

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