“steam rises from the river/like ghosts…I am delivered from a room/I’ll never see again, screaming a sound/still searching for the shape of words.” Cincinnati, D.A. Gray
'Margaret Atwood’s line, “War is what happens when language fails.” But what of those who love language and find themselves in war? Whitman, Tolkien, Cummings, Orwell, Golding, Asimov all show us that war forever changes voice and vision. D.A. Gray’s “Contested Terrain” draws a map of the human heart in an age of conflict. Gray traces clean, simple, powerful lines that chart a territory of loneliness, mourning, hope, love and seeking. The poems in this fine collection cleverly span both a literal geography—the cave country of Kentucky to war in Baghdad and a haunted return to the Texas hills—and a highly-relatable human journey through family relationships, friendships, bureaucracy and social unrest. Some of the stops along the way are hellish—“…bird skin, unlike the human kind,/takes its own sweet time browning over flame.” (The Mortar’s Whistle)—others pastoral, “This is the time of year the sun rests on its darkening/leaves. It is the smell draws me nearer: grass cut,/fruit rot, lilac, cow dung, something I cannot name.” (Chicken Tree) Throughout, Gray proves himself a deft storyteller and shapes words that ring in these times. '
-- Jinn Bug is a poet and visual artist living on the banks of the Ohio River. Her work has appeared in Appalachian Heritage, New Southerner, LEO Weekly, Fiolet & Wing - An Anthology of Domestic Fabulism, Pure Uncut Candy, The Rooted Reader, Aquillrelle and other print and virtual publications. Her current project Disobey-New Poems, co-written with Ron Whitehead, has recently been published by Underground Books.