"The earth has shrunk
and there is no place to hide
except, perhaps, in Antarctica."

This poetry compilation is a haven for exploring difficult, introspective questions that most refuse to consider, much less answer. Using the full repertoire of figurative devices, but especially imagery, metaphors, and personification, Mohl covers a wide range of engaging topics that are bound to initiate conversation among audiences. The poetry will undoubtedly hit home for the baby boomers and millennials who clearly remember the years in which the poems were composed.

Imagery is at the core of what makes this piece spectacular. From the outset, and in a nod to Langston Hughes, Mohl reflects on a dream deferred—juxtaposed with Hughes’ visceral image of a raisin dried up in the sun—and the success of many artists under the lights of the Apollo Theater. Similarly, he paints a vivid image of the everlasting rhythm of the surf colliding with the sand to highlight the duality of time passing and the earth evolving through climate change. Interestingly, Mohl has a knack for tackling controversial topics and getting his message across, all while avoiding irking the opposition. In “A Brief Sermon,” readers will encounter the line “It is better for men to pick up the pen” as an interpretation of the familiar saying “the pen is mightier than the sword.” In this particular poem, he mulls the virtues of war, a more natural instinct during controversy, in comparison to men being able to articulate themselves through the arts.

Mohl connects with many generations simultaneously by focusing his poetry on iconic individuals and their often catastrophic lives. In “Do You Remember George Sanders?” he uses repetition of “at sixty-five” to emphasize the tragedy of a man who seemingly had everything but felt the need to resort to suicide before his time. The line “At sixty-five, he figured he had done it all” has an eerie resemblance to the suicides of Heath Ledger and Robin Williams. In the same vein, “Remembering Michael” explores the trauma and the brewing chaos that became Michael Jackson’s life despite being world-renowned as a child and a once-in-a-generation musical talent. Through these poems, Mohl explores the lengths one goes to attain peace and feel fulfilled.

Throughout, the poet’s command of language is on clear display as he effortlessly weaves in in-depth commentary without straying away from the rhythm of the poem. In conjunction with flawless technique, the speaker in each piece does a commendable job of simply observing with impartiality. For instance, one of the most compelling poems in the collection, “America Was Born in Violence,” uses the “She was born” repetitive structure to highlight how we reached the top as a nation by climbing the backs of different communities. Mohl is an unquestionable master of adding emphasis and even a hint of humor, suggesting in “Living in a Goldfish Bowl” that technology has turned the world into a global village, leaving society in an Orwellian, Big Brother state of mind. Perhaps no poem quite maximizes the use of personification as well as “Earthquake in Gujarat,” which refers to the 2001 earthquake that claimed the lives of thousands. Depicting the land as a hungry entity who had just finished her meal, Mohl’s final couplet is particularly jarring: “And the earth was satiated / and went back to sleep.” Within this poem and many others like it, the message is clearly rendered that regardless of what happens in the world, people continue on with the normalcy of their lives rather than embrace the fear of change.

Whether through the symbolism of water, the moon, or time, Mohl does not shy away from delving into the philosophy of life and death, particularly in relation to the existence of a soul. Nevertheless, the entirety of the work, encapsulated by “Despair,” seems to both, directly and indirectly, suggest that as a global society, humanity must awaken their inner spirit so that the typical morning is not rife with headlines of negative and senseless tragedies. Overall, the twelve years that Mohl’s compilation reflects upon have drastically changed the complexion of history. With a fusion of captivating poetic language and engaging subjects, the poetry is a must-read for audiences of all ages.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home