Moods of the Dream Fog/Chapbook/ Finishing Line Press
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Moods of the Dream Fog:
Wendy Gist’s Images of Love, Nature and Nostalgia
Reviewed by Ginger Beck
As a lover of words, I always have trouble expressing what poems mean to me. However, Wendy Gist makes formulating my thoughts and reactions relatively easy in Moods of the Dream Fog, her latest chapbook. Her shades of colors take readers through a range of emotions with grace and beauty. A native Arizonan living in New Mexico, Gist gives readers a glimpse of how the natural world and her experiences and observations influence her imagination and writing.
Part 1, Shades of Red, is heavily rooted in love and passion, especially for her husband. Gist is able to express the biology of love, not so much clinically, but in a primal way. In “To My Dream” she conveys the “electrifying way” two lovers “collide” using time and space to illustrate the “lucid moment[s]” between them. “Electrolysis of Love” also shows the physical way humans react to love, comparing it also to the physical world: “I want to do to you / what moon lilies do by night.” In “Winter Walk at Nightfall,” Gist describes different acts of love, such as brewing hot tea and cooking soup to care for her husband, proving that love moves past biology and reaches into the day-to-day acts of caretaking as part of love’s fulfillment. Although heavily rooted in the erotic but tasteful descriptions of relationships, Gist finishes out the first section of poetry with “Cuke & Halo,” a glimpse at bright family-focused memories illustrated by the simplicity of triangle cucumber sandwiches. She tenderly describes “Grandmother’s sponge-roller hair haloed pink / Against California rose garden. Balmy, fragrant, 68-/ degrees.” The crisp imagery of this poem is powerful and the perfect transition into Part II.
In Part 2, Shades of Yellow, Gist paints images of nostalgia with nights at the ballpark, interstate travel through New Mexico, and dining at a special deli. “Midsummer Night at Isotopes Park,” is filled with vivid descriptions such as “The crowd chows giant cookies, kettle corn, / foot-long / corndogs, dripping tortilla burgers, green chile dogs, / funnel cake fries.” The feel-good vibes of this poem will make readers yearn for baseball season, even if not a baseball fan. “Humpty Dumpty Deli” is another sparkling glimpse at a moment in time, simplistic in its premise, yet complex in the observations and descriptions such as “waffle cones oozing melting mounds / into holders on the countertop near antique register, / accepts cash only” and “orange Crush pop in a bottle, chilled. / He waggles behind counter, washes knives in a sink, / wipes equipment sterile. Mops tile.”
Although brief, Part 3 Shades of Blue is powerful in its heartbreak and clarity. “Four Absolutes,” although brief, reminds readers that among the beauty of life previously explored in Part 1 and 2 is incurable pain: “The doctor told you there are four absolutes: / alive; dead; pregnant; not pregnant.” “Reaping the Whirlwind” is particularly familiar to me personally as it beautifully describes something as mundane and annoying as seasonal allergies: “the deadly blendings turn you light-headed / and leave you breathing dust, gasping, yet / you’ve got a prescribed Epi-pen ready to needle.” In the short but powerful poem “The Stirring” Gist proves her ability to maximize imagery and emotion in few words, as the short lines are packed with color and movement.
Part 4, Shades of Green is the final stop in Gist’s exploration of emotion. The diction of “Morning Beat” is smooth and calming, exploring the idea of disconnecting from society and becoming more connected to nature. This idea is continued in “Fragments of Southwestern Youth” which celebrates “No cell phone, no gps. / Sun out time” that humans so often forget to appreciate in the digital age. These final poems are heavily influenced by her Arizonian influence and even nods to Native American culture and experience.
Like the changing of the seasons, each shade of Moods of the Dream Fog holds its own beauty: in everyday pleasures, memories and even sadness. Wendy Gist has shown her range as a poet, pulling at readers’ emotions through her artistic vision and expression of words.
Reviewed by Ginger Beck, former Editor of Gravel Literary Journal, writer and English teacher in Little Rock, Arkansas.She advocates for at-risk youth, sings in a band, and is obsessed with dinosaurs and space. She lives with her boyfriend Michael and their 12-year-old poodle now that her 18-year-old daughter has left for college. Her most recent work appears in Foliate Oak, The Molotov Cocktail, Blue Lyra Review, Intrinsick, and Pithead Chapel. Twitter & Insta: @highfiveg