Ghosts and Other Vital Organs: An Obituary of Echoes
by Vincent Hollow
Writers Republic

"does my reflection
seem infected?"

In poems depicting the loss of self to one's demons, psychological terror, and toxic relationships too enthralling and adrenaline-spiking to cleanse, what becomes apparent is that what most shapes a person psychologically and emotionally is often that which one cannot see. Poems such as "Mirrors" and "Our Nightmares" depict the intertwining of good and evil, lust and calm within one's essence. With allusions to films like Nightmare on Elm Street, the poems within this collection possess an unequivocal darkness that, from the very first to the very last, leaves readers shivering and needing a nightlight to sleep.

With its alluring artwork that portrays each poem as a carved epigraph on a tombstone, this collection will appeal to horror genre lovers and fans. Some poems show life and existence as a movie with surprise slashings—emotional and mental ones. Others declare that solitude is not always the friend that transcendentalist writers like Thoreau and Emerson advocate: "sitting alone / watching the rain / sometimes / figures disappear / but some will stay." Instead, solitude becomes just one of the many demons tormenting an already broken, writhing soul that walks waywardly and confusedly through relationships and moments that rest like abandoned graves in a neglected cemetery. "Mood Stone" takes a more dedicated, romantic approach reminiscent of Dickinson: "By the time it dripped / In Stygian nightfall / Smoke trails led you down / the steps to your crypt." The subtle rhyme lures in readers and creates the sense and the image of a person taking steps down into a lower level shrouded by darkness, cold, spider webs, and loss.

The poem "Necrodancer" is just one of the collection's highlights. It opens with a bold declaration evocative of Camille Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre": "Every night / I dance with the dead." The statement then folds into something more sinister when the narrator observes, "As they dangle / Like marionettes from unseen fingers." Companionship and futility, nonetheless, fuse in the poem's final three lines: "And we dance / In the darkness of my dreams / Until the sun turns them to dust." By its end, readers see that the narrator has triumphed, but readers also intuit that the fear of what will return lingers for time immemorial. The sense of haunting depicted in this poem is one that permeates the collection. This haunting gives readers a feeling of always being watched by something they cannot see, which adds to the terrifying death-oriented symbols throughout the collection.

With its phenomenal artwork depicting grim reapers, bats, and skulls, this book is sure to appeal to anyone with an appreciation of and aesthetic for the darker side of life. For those seeking meditative yet jarring verses portraying the psychologically terrifying, this collection will be as refreshing as candles burning in the dark on a thunderstorm-ridden night. Others will appreciate the author's book for its accessibility. Since the work reads easily and smoothly, it is perfect for novice poetry readers. Meanwhile, more seasoned fans of melancholic verse by writers such as Edgar Allan Poe will appreciate Hollow's similar themes.

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