Metal Horse and Shadows: A Soul’s Journey
by Deenaz Coachbuilder
86 poems, Color artwork, 149 pages
Publisher: Deenaz Paymaster Coachbuilder
To Order: Direct from the author: email@example.com
Reviewed by Michael Escoubas
In the preface to this superb collection, the poet quotes author, Morag Styles* who said,
“Poetry leaves a footprint deep in the earth of what it means to be human.” Indeed, one
need not read far to realize both the humanity and spirituality contained in these poems.
*Morag Styles is Distinguished Chair, Faculty of Education, Homerton College,
Cambridge University, United Kingdom.
Even the title exudes this sense of bringing together human earth-tones with the
ephemeral aspects of life. “Metal” stands for that which endures; “Horse” is rich in
power-symbolism, unrestrained freedom and pure spirit flowing unabated. I take “Soul”
to mean the totality of personhood, all of who we are in the deepest recesses of our
being. Lastly, “Journey” is the ultimate metaphor of any life. Are we not all on a journey?
Do we not all share with Robert Frost, the choices made when
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Coachbuilder has arranged the work in three broad categories: Of Love and
Relationships, Mysteries of Nature and Journey of a Soul. Careful reading reveals that
while each category is strong enough to stand alone, there is a nice interplay between
them, something like a family gathering where cousins, aunts and uncles feel at ease in
each other’s company.
Stylistically, the poet writes an accessible free verse style that at times uses stanza breaks
flush left to the margin, at times poems are centered, in other instances customized
indention patterns are used to cause readers to slow down, pause, then resume reading in
order to experience the full impact of her ideas. Her poems are conversational,
unpretentious and spring from a loving and open heart. She loves people, nature and God
in ways that are at once deeply textured within her own beliefs, yet welcoming to those
who may hold a different view.
OF LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS
Eternity is a frequently visited theme in Coachbuilder’s poetry; here is a compelling
the car door
On the way
her numb fingers,
a gleaming blue
on his lap.
Excellent poetry is modelled in the details. Note how simply this poem is presented on
the page; the present moment and eternity coalesce in small details. Who among us
would not cling to and treasure such tender moments with our beloved?
In Forever, Coachbuilder reflects on how her son’s “first breath / crept into / a fold
within my heart” // Love abounds for her husband and son, “as soft songs reverberate /
through the ether” //
Coachbuilder constructs winning poems out of mundane things, as in this excerpt from
On a whim, I say,
Alexa, play Frederick Chopin,
as I commence with the morning’s
The loveliest of melodies,
precise, delicate, calm
suffuse my being,
gentle notes caressing
the piano keys.
You won’t want to skip over the rest of Coachbuilder’s tender tribute to Chopin’s
MYSTERIES OF NATURE
This section opens with a quotation from Confucius, “Everything has beauty, but not
everyone sees it.” Indeed, isn’t a poet’s vocation that of painting pictures with words?
This is what Coachbuilder does par excellence. I’ve chosen a couple of examples:
and stretched out
to a wild thing
it broke its stride
with soft words
with silent gaze their
built a bridge
This poem reflects Coachbuilder’s principle that “There is an unexplained spiritual
connection between all living things.” This principle is amply demonstrated in I saw a
coyote, which compares a weary coyote bereft of life-sustaining habitat, to the Biblical
figure of Ruth, who similarly found herself an alien far from home. This wonderfully
original poem is important, not only as it relates environmentally to our world, but also as
an example of a tender human-animal relationship.
JOURNEY OF A SOUL
As a practitioner of Zoroastrianism, Coachbuilder draws from a deep well of material
from which to enrich the soul. Several principles inform her life and her poetry: “Think
good thoughts,” “Speak good words,” and “Do good deeds.” These broad principles
congregate under an umbrella, “Do these through every waking moment.”
As a cancer survivor herself, Coachbuilder’s soul-journey is punctuated by a fresh
incentive to give thanks for each day’s blessings; here is an excerpt
Thank you for the gift
of the mourning dove’s plaintive salutation at dawn
that seeps through my window,
the world’s symphony transformed
into arias of winged souls,
splash of tumbling water,
a goods train’s rumbling clatter.
for many years I did not here its song.
Throughout this section I felt blessed by Coachbuilder’s sensibility that discontent can be
corrosive, working like rust on metal, slowly destroying the will to enjoy life. She
wrestles with timeless questions such as, “Why do the innocent suffer?” “Why do some
lives end abruptly before reaching fruition?” In these turbulent times, her poems truly
speak to the heart. She cites a Chinese proverb, “A little bit of fragrance always clings to
the hand that gives you roses.” Savor this poem as summation of a truly unique collection
certain to grace your journey with a lighter step
Our different persona
We struggle to reconcile
the different persons that we are
taking our separate pieces
and merging them
to form one temporal being,
the tough outward faces
confronts the meditative
the cool impartial observer
or the frivolous lover?
Why must we choose?
We are all.