Cushman’s poetry speaks from an incredibly experienced and knowledgeable point of view, including sp

W.B. Cushman

Dictation from the Backyard: Poems

Reviewed by Realistic Poetry International

W.B. Cushman’s collection of poems “Dictation from the Backyard” is an evocatively lucid collection that feels like we’ve discovered a time capsule full of private stories and memories that take us on an up-close-and personal journey with the Author, venturing through the many diverse phases and chapters of his lifespan.

Familiar with Cushman’s poetry from his previous work, “Minor Revelations,” the Author’s refined humor and compelling way of drawing out the ironies and simplicities of life, like the priceless happiness received from ordering cheap four-dollar books from his poem “Eight Dollar Magic,” or the importance of cranberries in his ‘red town’ come the month of September in the poem “Cranberries,” is yet another successful example of his prized effective writing technique, typically incorporating accentuating elements such as realism and practicality, characterization and dramatics, detailed vivid imagery and occasional dialogue, as written in the featured poem “One More Thing, Heather.”

Cushman’s poetry speaks from an incredibly experienced and knowledgeable point of view, including specifics and facts that capture important aspects and pieces of his history, and our world’s.

These important outlining details include measurements of time (years, months, cycles, etc.), as in the poem “About 1971,” real actual names of several people in his life, or people that he’s crossed paths with such as in the poem, “With Kate for Tea,” and places he’s been like the community gardens in Oakland, California and the popular tourist town of San Diego from his poem, “San Diego Say So.”

Reading this book, for some reason, makes us feel right at home, which coincidentally, seems to be in alignment with the chosen title for the book, “Dictation from the Backyard.”

Parent or child, the family-oriented poem, “Morning Manifesto, Dirty Dish Decree,” depicts the reality of being a father and how sometimes it’s quite necessary to put your foot down…or be left with a kitchen counter of stacked clutter! But not this dad! Instead, he presents readers with a question;

“What if I was to decree there’ll be no hamburg outing to my son?”

This poem, like many others we read, conveys a conflict (his son adding to his household duties by bringing late-night dirty dishes), expresses genuine emotion (not pleased one bit!) and concludes with a solution, in this case, firmly declaring with the consequential, “dirty dishes decree,” that “There will be no fries this night! No soft drink refills, nor plastic chairs at plastic table,” with eating-out privileges temporarily suspended. This poem is a superb example of Cushman’s realism, humanness and ingenuity!

Similar poems like, “Sleeping In,” focus in on a different theme while still vividly snapshotting a vexing moment, one that often affects most people at some point in time during life; oversleeping.

While the Author implements elements such as inventive metaphors and interesting similes, his poetry never dabbles on the whimsical fence of fantasy and make-believe, forcing us to consider how such behaviors (like sleeping in) truly affect us.

He expresses how there is never enough time to do what he needs to, and uses the power word, ‘wicked,’ to describe the impact of his action. Oddly, unlike some who find sleeping in to be a ‘reward’ or some type of an advantage, Cushman’s words and verses build up a slight anxiety throughout as he concludes saying “…So I lack completion, that’s it, even with my 5:30 rising, even as sometimes happens when I give myself a head start at 3:00.” Nonetheless, the Author’s brief reference to life as a “new 24-hour blessing,” clearly signifies his internal gratitude and appreciation for living, regardless of other inevitable factors.

In addition to the many humanistic situations we read about that emphasize feeling, emotion and actions, visually speaking, our eyes admire all of the different portraits he paints of our earth’s various seasons of the year, from wintertide to summer, from the fall of autumn to blossoming spring.

Some of these poems include the wintery “Rubied Truro Trees,” one of our favorites, “Haiku Fall,” an enchanting scene of fairy-tale magic, and also “Haiku Spring,” a colorful poetic illustration of “purple yellow orange blooms.”

Symbolic in many ways, these poems seem to, interestingly, illustrate the natural process of ‘transition’ or change and appropriately capture mood and emotion, as Cushman cleverly interties some of his own personal observations of life and himself as in the poem “The Summer Inside.”

He says, “I have looked for the summer inside myself and found it,” without implying or telling readers directly what ‘summer’ happens to be. This abstract and elusive strategy leads us to imagine and define his metaphorical interpretation by comparing and contrasting the symbolic or figurative attributes of summer to personality, temperament and attitude.

Ultimately, it appears that finding summer inside himself, just like the season, brightens up the moment with warmth, cheer, laughter, wishes and animation! So much, he secretly hopes his quiet chuckling will stir his dreamy wife from her sleep, enthusiastic for her conversation.

Well-rounded, intimate, personal and witty, W.B. Cushman’s collection of down-to-earth poetry includes both brief and thorough selections that, overall, share experiences, knowledge and antiquity through elements of nature, time and humanness. He does this while embedding some type of a lesson, big or small, an important piece of advice, simple or complex, or an inevitable general relevant truth.

His poetry shares the ups and downs in every day life and isn’t reluctant to admit how “life can be sad,” one of the featured poems in this collection. His candidness is appealing, bold and catching, enhancing his authenticity and credibility as a person while teaching us many things about himself, directly!

We are pleased to present this book with a 5-star rating and feel it is a poetry book many people can read and enjoy!

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