Soapbox Monkey Press, 2019
Firstly, Smith’s second book will whet the soul; I’m uncertain you can read it dispassionately without relating to it personally. I mean who hasn’t discovered and lost love? There is such a delightful wonder in young love consisting of physical discovery; however, I did not interpret this book in such a manner, despite the inference of a new love between two people. I perceive young love as young in spirit more so than relationship ( not to be confused with love at any age evoking a youthful feeling ). Angel Vomit
projects more of a mature love, something that comes to fruition after a lifetime of seeking by two people, “Their love was apocalyptic/ destroying all the other loves/ they had ever known (“For the Love of Chaos“).
In just three short lines of the opening poem, Smith has revealed the direction of his book. ‘We are all searching/ for that someone/ [. . .]/ [who] will remove the shackles/ and free us/ from ourselves’ (“Freedom”), we immediately get the feeling that the characters in this book have done exactly that. This book begins with love poetry that doesn't depend on lust or the silly to solidify it. Love presents itself in the first part; an idealized love, an observant love . . . “ [. . .]/ if you look into her eyes/ and allow yourself/ to feel her rhythm/ you will see the stars/ as they were/ at the beginning/ and hear the waves/ of ancient oceans” (“Out of the Corner of My Mind...I Saw Her”). It also reveals the narrator’s feelings as he struggles with expression, “I tried to explain my feelings/ but how do you explain a sunrise/ to a blind man/ or the call of the whip-poor-will/ to someone who’s ears/ refuse to sound/ [. . .] (“How She Moves Me”).
Secondly, Smith discloses an epically open heart, particularly in the second half of the book, when the paradigm of the relationship unexpectedly shifts, ‘Your love faded like twilight’s eve/ into darkness/ and passions that once ran wild/ now resemble amber/ [. . .] / their echos/ reveal to us/ that we/ cannot withstand/ the truth” (“Culinaire du Purgatory”). Smith demonstrates the ability to release love without drama, fights, or the ugliness so associated with breakups. He doesn’t accuse, demean, nor riddle the past with inferences of blame.
we cast the same shadow
now the bast
space between us
leaves a lump in my throat
as the oceans
breathe. . .
[. . .]
A veil is written between the narrator’s occurrence, reminiscence, and the longing associated with separation to his inevitable acceptance of fate, “Searching the bottom/ of this whiskey glass/ for answers/ to questions/ I never dare ask/ when I am sober/ but even after the bottle/ is long gone/ I still end up empty/ & continue to drown/ holding that last/ ice cube/ like it was/ the iceberg/ that sank/ the Titanic. (“Whiskey Sins”)
Smith’s sensual description is as tender as his heartbreak is real. If you're (un)fortunate enough to experience unrequited love ( as most ), this book matches your heart's vibration. Honest, moving, and heartbreaking all at once; bittersweet and almost too rending to read, Angel Vomit
weaves together a relationship that I feel is only half-told. It mixes love with loss and desire with despair. While the ending is a solid reflection on solitude that accumulates at the end of a love affair, it left me wanting more of the narrator's story beyond the culmination of his contemplation in the following poem:
The Grand Buffet
I lye awake
with my monsters
while I know
she is sleeping
And, somewhere inside of us, from compassion, or perhaps empathy, but definitely experience, we wrestle with a past that periodically raises its head too. That is exactly why we want to know more of the story. We crave hope and happy endings despite the inevitability of hurt. We crave this because of what we accept, what we take away from each circumstance and experience that brings us closer to truth. Angel Vomit
allows us to dream beyond painful endings.
For this, and its raw vulnerability, I recommend it. Footnote:
Terry Smith is currently battling stage three esophageal cancer. The purchase of his books and/or any donation to his gofundme page will greatly assist him with medical expenses. https://www.gofundme.com/cancer-treatment-and-surgery-costs