Every Day A Blue Sky:
Humorous and Satirical Poetry
by William Marr
130 English/Chinese poems + 41 Chinese poems ~ 241 pages
Price: $13.99 (Paperback)
           $19.50 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Washington Writers Press
ISBN: 9798777372673
To Order: Amazon.com

Reviewed by Michael Escoubas

According to Webster’s Dictionary, “satire is writing that holds up human vices or follies to ridicule or scorn.” A brief listing of English writers noted for satire includes: Alexander Pope (1688-1744); Jonathan Swift (1667-1745); Jane Austin (1775-1817); Mark Twain (1835-1910); Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966); and Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007). Each of these writers took to task embedded cultural assumptions in need of critical scrutiny.

Among Chinese poets, Li Po (701-762, Tang Dynasty); is known for his clear writing about common people and their needs. His poems often featured a satirical edge.

In the excerpt below, Li Po gives sage advice about the futility of war:

          These wars never end.
          Hand to hand we fight and fail,
          Horses screaming to the skies.
          Kites and crows pick at our flesh
          Perch on dead trees with our dead.
          We paint the grasses red,
          Because our General had a plan.
          The sword I say’s an evil thing.
          A wise man keeps it from his hand.
[Italics mine].

Every Day A Blue Sky: Humorous and Satirical Poetry, takes its place in the best tradition of satire and humor. It is a collection to enjoy. However, it is also a collection that calls upon the reader to think in fresh ways about life.

Consider Marr’s treatment of war from the horses’ perspective:

          Song of War Horses

          The war is yours
          yet we are spurred to the battlefield

          while sweat and blood are ours
          the medals
          are pinned on your chests

          Death is fair to all
          without distinction of breed
          still you use our hides
          to wrap the corpses
          of your unfulfilled ambitions

I sense shades of Li Po in this unique treatment.

Marr examines the psychological phenomenon of the divided self in this excellent sonnet:

          Ode to My Worldly Self

          O worldly self, my identical twin,
          you, engaging me in a constant tug-of-war,
          are trying everything to win.

          You tell me I am at the wrong door
          as I arrive home after a long journey.
          When I say enough; you say more more.

          To you my hat is old-fashioned and uncanny;
          you laugh at my best friend,
          saying he is a mere pauper.

          Material wealth and instant fame are your life’s end.
          Poetry is for the birds, you claim,
          There are more profitable things to be penned.

          Well old pal, though we share the same surname,
          I must say, your mind is fitted with a different frame.

Marr’s economical lines and understated humor belie an incisive mind. Marr notices everything going on around him. His approach meets us where we live. Who wants to listen to writers or speakers who lecture and put people down? Answer: No One!!

To those (including your reviewer) who place too much trust in computers, Marr offers “The Thinker:”

          Holding his chin
          how to
          hold the chin
          and watch the computer
          the thinking

“At the Dinner Table,” got my attention about famine:

          bloated by famine in Ethiopia
          the stomach must now digest
          a TV commercial
          of delicious cat food
          cholesterol free

These are mere samplings. Marr’s thematic range is a net cast wide upon the sea of human experiences. Little escapes his incisive eye: from materialism, to religion, to racism, to misplaced preoccupations with preserving our youth, to the theory of Parity Nonconservation, (don’t miss this one on page 93), this collection is a delight. Marr’s image-rich style stands in the long tradition of Li Po.

Even the title, Every Day a Blue Sky, is a study in satire. Marr’s tongue is in his cheek, as he gives his reader a smile and a wink, saying, Come and see what I’m all about.


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