Surviving Today's Roads
Still Chuckin': Poems 1999-2002, the fourth five-book collection of poetry to be released by Thomas Porky McDonald, sees the poet delve deeper into life-themed verses, while also continuing a steady stream of baseball-related material. Written during the most serene four-year period that the poet had known up until that time, Still Chuckin' does indeed show that McDonald's fastball, so to speak, is still humming. From To Thrill Again, former injustices ("Rubin's Smile," "The Walls of Trenton State"), personal philosophies ("Who is the Star?" "Through a Cease or a Fold," "Just a Balladeer") and the love of his life ("Memo to Rona") all take a stand, while the old yard is most noticeably poignant in "The Boy From Down the Hall," "The Crowd of Sweet Remembers," "The One True Heaven I've Known" and the title piece. The shadow of Rona makes a more definitive appearance in Underground Auroras/6702 ("Till All Your Tears are Ones of Joy," "Sweet, Sincere Notes," "Fairly Endlessly," "A Dream of You"), even as the world passes through ("Take a Message Back to Sundown," "Lately I Find Early," "The High Wire and the Net"). The passion for the game of his youth remains evident as ever in "Upon Ruth's Lot," "In the Mezz Wearing Weathered Mesh," "Farewell to a Season" and "Until We Tell Stories Again."
The Corner of Catharsis and Epiphany illustrates McDonald's diverse leanings, from "A Piece in the Night," "Photographs in the Mind," "What the Con Said" and "When We Were All Poets," to ballpark odes "For the Holy Ghost," "The Fences Were Green" and "Pink Lincolns."
The final two books in Chuckin', Vignettathon and Hobo Freight Dreams, written in the advent and aftermath of 9/11, each show the poet at his most focused. From Vignettathon, "The Air That September," "To Pray Once Always," and "A Vow as One" speak of that unprecedented time, while "The Lady on the Boulevard," "Tortured," and "A Dream Not Done" each reveal another layer of his soul. Hobo Freight Dreams closes out this collection, with life pieces "Does the Train Stop at Cortlandt Street Once More?" "Eddie Isko," and "Do You Ever?" c