This Rare Earth & Other Flights

     by Tom Sheehan

ISBN 0-9722793--7-7

231 pages at 14.95 paperback

Lit Pot Press, Inc.

3909 Reche Rd. Ste. #96

Fallbrook CA  92028


Tom Sheehan is a poet and writer, a wordsmith blessed with uncommon

gifts.  His philosophy is aptly expressed in the Preface of this book:

          ...and I shall always touch you,

          Mother Earth, Rare Earth,

          from all vantages in these

          flights of uncounted time;


It was a difficult task choosing examples from Sheehan's poetry.  Whether

many stanzas long, or brief, each poem told a story that enthralled, brought

laughter or a tear.   The poems are divided into four distinct categories:

          In the Hearth and Self;

          In the Universe;

          In the Confrontation;

          The Air Around Me.


I was particularly drawn to Sheehan's thoughts on aging, lost family members

and friends.  One powerful example on mortality is found in "Voice from the Gray":

 one giant leap,

          went seventeen to seventy,

          found response, am still there. 

          Walked home from war, heartbreak,

          the hill above that holds your voice,

          Riverside where the stone deftly scribed

          is hardly your last sign, where we

          will touch again



In "Thomas, Thomas", the poet contemplates his father while watching his

son play:

          Oh, years close such ugly jaws between father

          And son, between the old and the dreaming,

          Between the looking back and the looking forward,

          So I cheat sometimes and think the looking back

          Has more magic, the greater reserves of splendor,.


"Four More Poems the Road Gave Up" is a four part anthem.  All were

worthy, but "Displacement" was my favorite:

          What happens on a round smooth stone

          is hands, fingers of old voices, dust, bones,

          sunlight falling in May, the terrible heel

          December has....


I'm always fascinated when a poet weaves ekphrastic art - creating a poem

from viewing a painting.  In "Small Boats at Aveiro", Sheehan records his

thoughts on a painting set in Portugal by Peter Rogers, Nahant marine artist:

                         They are not

          Deserted, though faintly cold for oarsmen

          Who walk down this beach behind me,

          Stomachs piqued and perched with wine,

          Salted hands still warm with women, mouths

          Rich of imagery and signals.


Grieving the losses of war has been a familiar cry of late and in times past. 

In a few lines, Sheehan captures the essence of war and those warriors who

serve their country.  "Born to Wear the Rags of War" was chilling, exquisitely

written by a man who lived it:

          They had been strangers beside each other, caught in the crush

          of tracered night and starred flanks, accidents of men drinking beer

          cooled in the bloody waters where brothers roam forever, warriors come

          to that place by fantastic voyages, carried by generations

          of the persecuted or the adventurous, carried in sperm body, dropped

          in the spawning, fruiting womb of America,

                              and born to wear the rags of war.


Tom Sheehan is a poet of exemplary style and voice.  Whether read in awed

silence or spoken aloud, his work is beautiful.  For lovers of free verse, this

book is a must have, must read.


Laurel Johnson

Midwest Book Review