Beyond the Moon’s White Claw
by Patty Dickson Pieczka
89 poems, 128 pages
Price: $18.00
ISBN: 978-1-945063-32-9
Publisher: Red Dragonfly Press
To Order:

Reviewed by Michael Escoubas

In my role as a book reviewer few collections have moved me more than Patty Dickson
Pieczka’s new work. As a poet I have learned that reading and writing poems brings
about healing in the aftermath of stress. Pieczka avers in her introduction, “I needed to
come to terms with the some of the murkier parts of my past.” Beyond the Moon’s White
chronicles that journey and its results. She offers these poems in love, as a gift to
her fortunate readers.

Divided into five parts, Pieczka invites readers to accompany her on a quest for healing.
While the poems are strong enough to stand on their own, she urges readers to take them
in chronological order.

Part I. Marriage to Vic and his father’s suicide
Part II. Life after divorce and my friend Kinouk
Part III. Vic’s attempt to return home
Part IV. Dedication to all those affected by violence or war
Part V. Epilogue, my present life

As a veteran of the Vietnam war, your reviewer is well acquainted with Pieczka’s profile
of her husband Vic. At 18, he, like so many young men was

       Young and in the war-singed jungle,
       his face as carved as an old man’s,

       shadows of death weave through his hair,
       ghosts drifting past his eyes.

This excerpt is one of “Four Snapshots of Victor,” which open the collection. Each poem
contains five couplets which correspond to Vic’s life in carefully measured decades, at18,
28, 38 and 48. These poems form a kind of artist’s sketch of the man destined to
influence the poet in profound ways and compel her to inspect both the beauty and
undersides of situations that sparked and flared from her memory.

Like the changing of seasons in the middle-west, where nature signals gradual transitions,
so between Patty and Vic, changes were subtle, moving from

       Sing to Me

       and make the rough-ridged rocks
       of this day
       vanish into the sun.

       Unlace the afternoon;
       let its blue-gray ribbons
       fly loose in the silver breeze.

       Your voice is a satin river
       that lifts me to its currents,

to things more sinister on the horizon

       War Shadows

       When dark wind and leaves
       cannot console each other,
       he thrashes the night into thin black rags
       as fear runs its hot tongue
       through his veins.

As the poems progress in Part I, my heart felt heavy for both Patty and Vic as their
marriage gradually changed to the point of no return; Patty writes in The Well

       I drag my emptiness behind me.
       it clatters along the stones
       like a metal bucket.

Divorce segues Pieczka toward friendship and hope as the she faces the pain of an
appendage being ripped from her body. In a series of memorable poems Pieczka blends
the visible outer world of nature with the invisible (but no less real) world of the human
psyche. The moon, the collection’s pivotal metaphor, is present throughout. Even when it
is not directly referenced, it is still there, as in this excerpt from

       Silence and Echoes

       Wind whispers Vic’s quiet laugh,
       gathers leaves and piles them
       against my door. Kitchen pots
       Speak in hollow voices.
       Sometimes, I wake
       in the cool arms of night,
       feel his presence and know
       he’s traveling closer.

Perhaps some readers have felt the same as Pieczka, sensing that a relationship is moving
toward crisis

       Back from the Bayou

       Vic appears from the Gulf,
       and we circle each other
       like suspicious cats,
       our once-flowing conversations
       threadbare and sparse.

As Part II develops Pieczka draws readers up close and personal as

       I pour bittersweet August
       into my opened wounds
       and pray for light,
       tear the night’s fears
       into tiny black pieces
       for the breeze to hold.

Pieczka’s anguished heart brings forth powerful imagistic poems. In Part III, she reaches
into the night to feel morning’s warm hand.
Vic returns home from his sojourn in
Louisiana, but things do not go well. The trauma to Vic’s soul from his military
experiences finds expression for Pieczka in poems laying open the pathos of their
relationship. Here is an excerpt from What Lives in the Dark

       The day closes its heart,
       and I listen through gaps of dusk
       to the breath of black trees.

While darkness is profound for the poet, she does not give into darkness; she continually
has faith that light will not forever be obscured

       While Waiting for Sunlight

       I ignored the moon,
       never noticed its shape
       was an unopened dream
       ready to bloom silver.

This poem, toward the end of Part III, marks a subtle transition moving the poet ever-so-
cautiously into the orbit of hope anchored in love.

In parts IV and V, Pieczka unfolds a tapestry of poems, born of love, and dedicated to all
affected by violence, racism, and prejudice in its many forms.

Though the poet is dealing with issues of profound emotional and psychic depth, she
remains faithful to her poetic craft. She is an artist of amazing skill and range.

I would be remiss if I did not cite a particularly poignant poem from Part V; I leave you
with this in power and in majesty


       I carry your breath in my hands
       like warm sun at dusk.
       Your laughter vines through my hair,
       roots growing into my heart.

       Stay with me
       while the forest rings
       its small brass bells,
       and the lake reflects the oracle

       of October’s bronze mirror,
       candling golds and russets
       of evening’s wild dance.

       Hold to our branch and whisper
       your song of riffling leaves
       before wind clips our stems

       to whirl us
       back to earth
       in our separate turns.

       We have only
       until the moon blinks.

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