Douglas McHargue, Review of Robert Lee Brewer’s “Solving the World’s Problems”
by Douglas McHargue
SOLVING THE WORLD’S PROBLEMS
Robert Lee Brewer
Press 53, 2013
Solving the World’s Problems is Robert Lee Brewer’s first full-length collection of poems. As Senior Content Editor of Writer’s Digest, Brewer is a veteran at examining life through the world of poetry.
In these poems we see a man caught in modern life needing clues on how to live it. “10:15 in a kroger parking lot” finds a customer sitting in the midst of America’s cornucopia “overwhelmed as choreographed cars” come and go without him, leaving him unable to move, take action, lost in plenty. Perhaps it’s this same man in “self portrait” who disappears into the kitchen “lost in the hum/ of these machines,” where “there are / times i feel i don’t / exist.”
In “dream” a man reaches out for an answer by literally reaching for his wife, but is not sure if he’s in a barn filled with junk, his empty house, or even in a car, suggesting how uncertain we can be of the framework of life, even in the midst of familiarity.
These couples extend themselves, even though in “worried about ourselves” they’re at the point where “we cast spells on ourselves” and in words heavy as the hearts involved, the moon has become “a rock surrounded by darkness.”
In “discovery” words are not as weighty, the moon now “a deflated balloon,” but equally
significant, as the man comes to see his lover and their relationship as transitory as “a sweater left by accident.”
Still, the reaching continues in “when we write about love” where “there are no/ other eyes/ other hands that travel / the way yours travel.” Hope for love’s powers conclude with the final lines, “scream for help / in my dreams/ i’ll save you.”
Things primal, love and nature, coexist in this collection, maybe answers for problems as in “the noises that scare us” with this striking imagery, “we want / reminded of who we were when the birds / first spoke,” for beware, later in life “our wings dissolve as we age.”
Brewer offers wisdom for our frantic, plastic powered society in “some day i may find my life reflected in a mirror” where “the answers are / crickets chirping / in the breeze,” if we will just take time to hear them.