Blue Tin Sky
by Greg Gregory
68 pages, 54 poems
Price: $16.00
ISBN: 978-1-7326501-0-0
Publisher: Avenafatua Press
To Order:

Reviewed by Michael Escoubas

Greg Gregory not only stands out as a poet, in addition, he has created the cover art for
Blue Tin Sky. The cover depicts a storm-scene in Mendocino, California. The natural
world is home for Gregory. He is comfortable within his surroundings and his poetic art
bears witness to his love of northern California and the large and small vistas to be found

Structure and Style

Blue Tin Sky is sectioned in four untitled groups salt and peppered with interesting titles
such as “Don Quixote, Summer,” “Treefrogs in the Spa,” “Dialogue with a House,” “Old
Photo,” “By Tomales Bay,” and “A Poet’s Dinner with Ghosts.” Who wouldn’t want to
know more? Each of these poems, and all the poems for that matter, justified this
reviewer’s interest.

Many people aver to me that poetry is so hard to understand that reading it simply isn’t
worth the effort. I routinely look for and appreciate poets who write an accessible (not
dumbed-down) poetry that respects that very trait in potential readers. That said; let me
nominate a few sample poems that possess depth and texture and invite the reader to join
the poet in conversation about things that matter in life. From the collection’s opening
piece, Simile, I felt clothed in the natural world,

A fox
as if
made of light
and shadow.

In subsequent short-lined stanzas I see “cranes wading,” a lotus “climbs out of / the
water’s edge,” my “eye winks / in a sea of moons,” and I am made to see other
“impossible things” up close and personal.

I alluded above to joining the poet in what matters in life. Well, what DOES matter?
Gregory engages his readers in vivid imaginary adventures. In an age when computer
screens and talking heads on television intrude upon our lives, it is for the poet to offer
something else of value: using the imagination to find and exalt meaning in life. In Night
the poet rides with Wayne and Jeff

Moon in the mirror,
dresser in the back of
an open pick-up
jouncing down upper Market at 2 am,
Wayne and Jeff laughing in the cab—
not too much Jose Cuervo
for any of us
while I bounced
with a jumble of old furniture as
the truck backfired

Having moved furniture more times than I can count, I easily related to the chugs and
lurches of that old truck jostling me as I held on, determined not to let the furniture get

When is the last time you read a poem about bats? You won’t want to skip over Brown
Myotis. The poet links the renowned sculptor Rodin to the “soft flutters and squeaks” of
these creatures who live deep in a hole in stone and clay. A fun read.

It is not often that I consult a dictionary while reviewing. (I have a false-pride that thinks
I know a lot of words). In the poem “Development” this word: boustrophedon sent me
flying to my Merriam-Webster’s for clarification. Gregory uses it in a delightful poem
about walking his dog at the edge of a field. Check it out.

Poetic Devices

In addition to thoughtful titles, which ARE poetic devices, as well as line-breaks that
demonstrate the poet’s command of cadence in the free verse form, I would highlight
others such as personification. In Valley of the Moon, the moon “winks, kisses through
the window, stares like a cat’s eye, lost in the night sky, shines like a bright coin.”
Delight yourself in this excerpt from Along Drake’s Beach.

As the poem begins, “Waves grab/our paths, our footsteps, erasing / our soft traces
among/washed up shells.// Be sure to walk with the poet the full distance for an
impressive menu of personification entrees. Here’s a sampling

the wonder shell, living in amazement,
the rosy harp, lost in its music,
the fool’s cap, serene in its ignorance
the telescoped dove, searching for interior hope
the spiral Babylon, confused in its tongues
the casket nassa, buried in itself

Deckchairs, showcases the poet’s skills with visual imagery. I feel surrounded by fading
sunlight, the gradual changing of the sea from blue to silver to gray, the weathered skin of
those who once occupied them. Near the end, the poet brings in fresh pots of Iceland
poppies “afire in the sun.” Gregory’s images are unique and strong.

Beneath a Blue Tin Sky

Gregory saves the title poem until the end; this after evoking compelling images of life
winding down in Rising, where the full moon pours “light onto/the bones of the world.”//
And in Through the Valley, calling forth images “of a hawk, a ghost in the fog,/
perched alert on a passing fence post.”//

I quote this reflective quatrain from Blue Tin Sky, which resonates with me because of the
haunting question it contains

A light ridge of fingers runs
over the drama of flipped
calendar pages.
Who won or lost this year?

Indeed, does it not fall to the poet to pose such questions? Does it not fall to the poet to

Autumn is the time
when you fall into thoughts—
fall through the colored fire
of the lightly hung ones into
the browning weave of the old
as they lie and decay and earthturn,
streams swollen, translucent pasts,
banks with their thickening carpet,
incurling of the seasons,
the fallen skin of the autumn sky
wetlaced, colorshot and browngrowing.

Dear reader, do yourself a favor and walk with a truly accomplished poet beneath a blue
tin sky as you consider, who won or lost this year?

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