Border - Cleatus Rattan

The Border.

By Cleatus Rattan. Huntsville: Texas Review Press, dist. By TAMU Consortium, 2006. ISBN 1-881515-47-8 paper $12.00, 5 1/2x8 1/2. 80 pages. Poetry. http://www.shsu.edu/~www_trp/

Rattan, a former marine, taught at Cisco Community College and ranched nearby while these poems were collected. He won awards for his previous work, including being Texas’ Poet Laureate, and this volume won the 2002 Texas Review Poetry Prize. Rattan writes of what is important – family life, the teaching life, and the hardscrabble life west of Fort Worth. When folks visited him there “their hands reach for the dog’s head. / They see sheep, / mesquite, scrub oak, the smile / on my face, and the stars meandering to nowhere.” When Aunt Mary came she told “about how young Jeffrey took / her for rides on these same ranch roads / in his 1937 Ford every Sunday / and how he had wanted her to marry him, but he was killed / in the war.”

And Rattan has had his incalculable quandaries, “Is virtue your faith? And me, is love my sin? / Because I love and cannot help myself, / Must I conclude the fault is deep within / My genes? Or can I blame some capricious elf?” But he clarifies entrancedly to the winsome woman wearing his ring “Your lulling music, dance / give me power / to fend off dragon fire, / protect our poem bower.” If you’re looking for them moment when mortality and grace meet in the saddling of a horse, turn to page 63. Cleatus will give you a boost. A shot in the arm for junior American literature class. - WH

No comments: