Words to Breathe By
by James Richard Hansen

"She is lounging
in sunlight, stretched
across a silky white bed.
Our celestial work of art
has just begun."

Immersed in the imagery of light and dark, sun and moon, Hansen’s work is soothing to the core. From the opening poems, audiences can anticipate the color that is a part of each poem’s identity, and though the pieces are short and simple, their depth is in the thought-provoking juxtapositions of Mother Nature and love.

Hansen sets the tone for the compilation in “The Arriving Night,” where the blue of the fading sky and the red of the burning sun meet, albeit briefly, in glorious unity. While the imagery is stellar, the narrative prose that poems like “Trees” exhibit is just as meaningful in its philosophy: trees that endure all the world has to throw at them, converting tragedy into wisdom and maintaining their immense majesty for centuries. Perhaps where Hansen excels most is taking ordinary objects like “horse of the imagination,” “God’s jewelry store,” or rain, and aligning them with a purely human quality, such as rain being the cleaning or “removal of emotional debris.”

Where nature commands the attention in the first part of Hansen’s work, it is love that consumes the pages of the latter portions. The serene elements of the nature poems give way to the freshness of blossoming love and the pure exhilaration that follows. Many of the poems are undoubtedly an ode to the woman who the speaker wants to love “like God” and who is the reason the speaker feels free from the prison of the mind. Hansen’s work showers bountiful praises on the vivaciousness of the female form as a form of self-discovery, a path to finding one’s self in the midst of the world’s constant chaos. Overall, the poet’s delivery is raw and authentic, allowing the readers to settle in and find comfort in his depictions.

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