Josh Ekroy praises Oliver Comins’ poetry for its use of tactfully included detail as a way of conveying emotion held in check.

cominsYes to Everything
Oliver Comins
Templar Portfolio Pamphlets Series
ISBN: 1906285411
15 pages    £5.00

The poem from which the title to this pamphlet is taken, is called 
‘Something Geometric’, and it’s a line from its last stanza in which 
the speaker regrets:

but it’s too late and no amount of persuasion
will enable him to invest the effort required.

“He” is the deceased dedicatee of the poem. There follows a comparison with his own experience:

Just like that time I dithered over an oil painting
of towels on a hot beach with a tiny swimmer
in the distance, sold in the hour I took to return. 

Actual death is located in life’s smaller hesitations. The thirteen poems collected here typically 
caution the reader by tactful inclusion of detail that while life is open like the doors of a delivery van, 
it is also closed by distance, emotion that is held in check, and something beyond our capacity for self-fulfilment:

So little light left, seeping into the rooms
where we live with our long nurtured needs

This poem, ‘Firethorn (Pyrocantha coccinea)’ presents the shrub as infinitely more expansive and at 
ease in the world than humanity manages to be. Its expression finds a validity through carefully flexed juxtaposition:

red berry soaring a few yards to the west...

‘Greengrocer’ also probes the nerves of disappointment through natural imagery, as it uses the 
luscious fruit that a couple buys together in the market and which will merely be washed and stored 
in the fridge as a trope for love’s cooling.

‘Niagara Time at Michelle’s Place’, on the other hand,  is the most ambitious in the collection and 
combines the experience of being in a hairdresser’s with a musical production as well as Blondin’s 
voyage across Niagara on a tightrope. This multi-faceted poem - in that you finish it not knowing 
which way to look - contains my favourite line:

The words have travelled from somewhere east
of Ealing

The suburban setting reduces this modest poet’s world to spare proportions. The regret is muted, but not completely buried beneath a sense of enjoyment. The tone is always reassuringly conversational, and drama is not something that is going to disfigure life, even if it is perceived as disrupting the 
borders of it.

Josh Ekroy’s first collection Ways To Build A Roadblock was published by Nine Arches Press in May, 2014. He lives in London.