Soft Thunder by a. f. swanson
Reviewed by Realistic Poetry International
Finding your soulmate can be the one piece to the puzzle of your life that makes it complete, like a dream come true or a fairy-tale made real; starry-eyes, kisses and hugs, even their touch seems like the magic wand to enchant you forever! Until pretty dreams unfold into surreal nightmares that drive you to regret and resent the very moment you ever met…
Many poems a part of this collection emphasize and focus on the intense anguish and dread the Author undergoes during the course of an unhealthy relationship with someone (spouse) who appears to devalue, degrade and neglect her commitment, love and worth.
Keeping in mind the many different perspectives of love, world-wide, Swanson’s intimate and shameless poetic revelations remind us that not everything our heart desires is good for us. Sometimes, even things and people we love.
Surging with an elaborate stream of tempestuous emotions, evanescent yet penetrating verses start out illustrating a nearly colorless soul, void of light and mentally depleted of strength.
The quote, “I feel as empty as this book but my black script is full of color,” seems to magnify this mood and tone, creating a sort of paradox whereas the pain of the Author’s emptiness may very well leave her feeling dull and pallid, but only until she pours out her impassioned heart and vulnerable soul, revealing bold streaks and strokes of many different shades that symbolize much more than her heartache and adversity. But then, the dark pigment of pain, just like a tattoo, seems impossible for her to permanently eliminate.
The power of this complexing conundrum the Author revolves in lies in a single quote;
“I live for what I burn for…and I burn at the thought of holding you…”
Almost to say that there is a certain extent of pleasure she receives from the torture of bearing this reproachful torch. We feel this is one of the most dramatic ironies and themes of this book that emphasizes the “soft thunder” allegory embedded in the title and explains a bit behind why she may feel both “hot” and “cold” in such a relationship.
Using the classic and familiar Haiku format, her cynical and guarded heart continues to express good reasons to be critical, and in some instances, overflows with flaming rage, sharp words, pessimism, and retaliatory insults due to the frustration and disappointment caused by the one who has left her heart cold and bare.
Infidelity. Lies. Betrayal. Broken promises. Ill-words. Resentment. Most of us can relate to the disconcerting feelings triggered by any of these types of hurtful situations or actions, and it’s all too easy to find yourself slowly plummeting into the same pit of depression this poetry book tells of when the one you love, who is supposed to also love you, has an unnerving, uncompassionate and demoralizing way of expressing it, day in, day out.
But Swanson is fueled by her lover’s pride, carelessness and arrogance and is determined to stay afloat!
She even creates and includes an organized list of steps to help people counter the disheartening feeling they experience when suffering from a wounded heart entitled, “Stages of Grief, how to cope with being cheated on,” in which she openly uses her own personal experience to ultimately encourage and guide others through their grief as well. And despite the sadness and many regrets noted during our read, she speaks boldly to her audience and faces the imperfections of her unbecoming reality by simply telling it like it is. No glitz. No glamour. Just truth.
All the while, she seems to remember to never overlook the magic and quiet beauty that lives through the power of her peculiar and wistful imagination, where she still dreams and wishes saying, “If only you would exist inventories, then I might have a chance.”
Stages of Grief, how to cope with being cheated on is one of our favorite sections because it also embodies the overall theme of the Author’s book; dealing with and growing from hurt, bitterness, disappointment and glum. Moreover, it is verbal proof that there is another day that comes after the pain; use it to learn to love and value yourself as long as you are still here.
Swanson’s poetry can be empowering to those who feel weak beyond recovery and is far from superficial. She doesn’t once deny her fragility and understands the overwhelming feeling of brokenness and rejection. On the brighter side, this seems to be all the more of a reason for her to understand the value and importance of certain essential characteristics such as strength, self-worth, consciousness and resiliency, which the author expresses in a single sentence saying,
“If you must suffer to grow, than I believe I was meant to be the mightiest tree in this forest.”
Sometimes, her poems and writing transitions into soft, promising fantasies that tell of her longing and internal desire to, one day, find someone she can call her true soulmate, despite the traumatizing history of love she has to tell.
She says, “My soulmate is somewhere out there writing about how he can’t wait to be with a girl like me,” and in another poem, “All I want from you is a letter and to be your lover,” her hope and fire for love, dimly lit, yet still aflame.
Finely interwoven into simplistic yet meaningful illustrations, Swanson’s lucid verses proficiently align with the compelling images she uses for some poems to figuratively accommodate their significance and add definition to their overall message.
For instance, she says, “I told you to run away when it should have been me heading in the opposite direction,” using a pair of tennis shoes as the visual centerpiece. In another poem she writes “I could wrap up my bones in a pretty little package…”, with a corresponding illustration of a gift with a bow.
We appreciate this classic combo of art and words, giving this book a diary-like, antique feel that often seems undervalued in the world of poetry.
There are so many unique elements to this book that sets it apart from the norm, including the structure, with poems written in various unconventional styles and patterns (parallel, diagonally, zig-zag, text message/DM message format, etc.), cliff-hanger excerpts from books yet be written containing dialogue and detail, there are also select pages completely ‘blacked out,’ with the words in white print, opposite to the rest.
This book of poetry is vulnerable, brazen, realistic and comprehensive. It will most likely resonate the deepest with those who are grieving due to the trauma and devastation caused by unfaithfulness and neglect in a relationship yet find freedom and solace in the therapy of words, writing and poetry.
We rate this book with 4-stars and applaud the Author for exposing some of her innermost sentiments about two of the most familiar topics we all know; love and pain.
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