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The Little, Lingering, White, Lies We Allow Ourselves to Live With (poems of 2011)
by Charles Portolano
89 poems/93 pp/ $12.95
As Is Arts Press

Reviewed by: Ed Bennett

Charles Portolano is passionate about his art. In the very first sentence of the book’s foreword he exclaims: “I love being a poet”. Mr. Portolano’s other passion is teaching. At the end of the book is a lesson plan for grades 3 through 12 to help students write a poem. His feelings for his craft expand into his professional life where he is willing to share his joy of artistry with everyone.

The poems found in this book are accessible. They are in plain English without the overuse of complicated imagery or arcane references. In fact, the short line structure would do equally well in paragraph form as a prose poem.

The most interesting facet of the collection is that it is about people – people loving, working, learning and, in some cases suffering. Occasionally, what may sound like a love poem takes a hard turn into darkness.”In the Heat of Her Heart” is the story of a pyromaniac and his true love, fire. The fire takes on a feminine character seducing the pyromaniac with the heat and flash of destruction.

“If he could, he would run
in to be as one with her
for he can’t take his eyes
off of the way she shoots
out of all the windows.”

Woven into these one page poetic biographies are themes of social justice. The people range from Occupy Wall Street protesters, harassed workers and abused wives. Each of them has a story that is spread across the page.

“The Little, Lingering, White, Lies We Allow Ourselves to Live With” is a 21st century echo of “Spoon River Anthology”. The major difference is that Mr. Portolano’s characters are alive and march to the cadence of their fate. If you like your poetry neat and to the point, this is the book you want to read.


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