Battle Cry
by Jennifer Sara Widelitz
Atmosphere Press

"But you succumb to the sleepy influence of the night and when you awake, Time has gone—"

This collection of poems helps the reader empathize with others' pain and come to peace with different life endings than once hoped for. The poet wonders how the stories of fairy tale characters like the bad wolf and the grandmother would have ended if each had someone who befriended them, who listened and offered a hand to hold.

Widelitz is a clever writer. Imaginative from childhood, she voices her battle cries for health in fanciful ways. Sections in the book focus on her one-time dreams regarding life before disease struck, the pain of these crashing down yet being comforted by realizing it could be worse, the healing found in nature, and dealing with relapse by falling forward rather than in reverse. The poet suffers from myalgic encephalomyelitis, otherwise known as chronic fatigue syndrome. This enemy is an autoimmune disease, and her battlefronts vary between pain and relentless tiredness. Her weapons range from acceptance to praise to tears. The side effects can vary between loss of confidence and morbid thoughts.

The poetic devices most used in this book are titles that evoke strong reactions from readers, stanzas that alternate between war cries and painful pleas, and graphic devices that include an inkblot of trees showing her changing view of life. Trees especially seem to hold lessons for the author. Hope keeps one rooted in reality while branches keep reaching skyward toward the dreams awaiting one on the clouds and stars. In the book's introduction, Widelitz thoughtfully lists the type of readers who might appreciate the book as a gift. They are those struggling with a debilitating illness, someone who helps a person with such an illness, or one who feels alone but is stronger than they realize.

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