Solonche, J.R.: It’s About Time

Solonche, J.R. It’s About Time. Deerbrook Editions, 2023, 69 pp.

Accessible, aphoristic, big-hearted, and humorous, J.R. Solonche’s It’s About Time is a delightful poetry collection. Most of the poems are short, often two to a page. Here, in its entirety, is one of my favorites, “Three Butterflies”:

I do not care
about the pair.
It is the third one
that my heart
goes out to.

Another favorite of mine is the collection’s closer, “When the Time Comes”:

When the time comes,
I want to be waiting there.
I have something to say
that I do not want to say
behind its back. I want
to say it to its face as all
important things need be said.
When the time comes,
I want to be there, waiting.

Of course, the book also features longer poems. Memorable to me are the book’s opener, “Time,” which juxtaposes a physicist’s notions of time with the speaker’s discovery of a dead opossum during a morning walk; “In the Bar,” in which the speaker and a friend discuss a good-looking woman sitting nearby; and “Virginia Beach,” a childhood-reminiscence piece that ends with these thoughts about the speaker’s mother: “She just didn’t tell the whole truth. / She would have made a great poet.”

And, speaking of great poets, Solonche alludes to quite a few. William Stafford and Stanley Kunitz, clearly touchstones for the poet, appear together in “Pictures.” Immediately following, “The Soul’s Sea” namedrops A.R. Ammons. “Dim Gold” conjures Frost’s great “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” “Shadows,” with its mysterious hawk, brings to mind Wallace Stevens’s blackbirds. Solonche even gives us a tragicomic tribute to Dylan Thomas.

I’ll close with Solonche’s poem “Introductions”:

It’s good to know about
them before you dive
in, I suppose. I guess it’s
helpful to be prepared, but
I never read them. You’ll
know right away how warm
or how cold the water is.

There’s little doubt about the temperature of It’s About Time.

–Tom Zimmerman,
10 March 2023