Monday, June 23, 2014

Two Reviews on Twelve Times Thirteen

Walter Ruhlmann’s stunning e-chapbook, Twelve Times Thirteen, has just been released by Kind of a Hurricane Press as part of its Barometric Pressures series: The title derives from the book’s organizing principle: twelve poems, one for each month in 2013. Each poem also has a subtitle, connecting the piece with a song title that for the initiated mirrors, echoes and expands the poem’s theme. It’s intricate work, honest and at times harrowing. Ruhlmann confides that the first six months of 2013 were “about the worst I ever lived.” The powerful poems provide evidence of the scars, transforming them into art in the process:

"A virgin area, a dry land.
The fountains were emptied and the wine drunk all the while.
Too much food, too much laughter in such little time."

All is desiccation and desecration, wine like blood and laughter hollow as bones. Lucifer appears as Mother Lucy, with her pop chemical diamonds, as Lithium and Lilith. It’s a long way down, as Stevens said, “to darkness on extended wings.” And in that darkness, the excess of modern life – Quarter Pounders and mounds of sweets nourishing nothing but illness and guilt and the leprechaun’s laugh “…somewhere around the vineyards, west of Bresse. This is confession as descent and cleansing, a hard, hard fall (the reader hopes) to rise again. Read these poems: they will scare you and scar you, shake you and wake you with their witch-goddesses, demons and frozen rivers “…imprisoned in the ice and tormented torrent.”

Steve Klepetar, Poet


Twelve Times Thirteen by Walter Ruhlmann is a powerhouse of graphic emotion.  Employing a fascinating format pairing the twelve months of his life in 2013 with the twelve tracks of a record, Ruhlmann has chosen songs by famous artists to reflect the theme and mood of each of his poems.  These poems are evocative of a wellspring of torment, the rawness and intensity of which are not for the faint-hearted.

Fern G. Z. Carr, Poet

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