Author: James Mirarchi
ISBN 978-0-557-08431-9

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Dervish is a collection of poetry and a single one-act play. According to the back cover it “spins from one theme to another with the energy of an eccentric dance” and so it does. The poetry is moving at points even bringing tears to tired jaded eyes. The imagery touches the reader’s soul deeply but sometimes only from the severity or harsh edges of the pictures painted by Mirarchi’s words.

Once read and enjoyed these pieces take on a life. The visuals become even more vivid while staying hauntingly out of full view. Titles evoke certain standard images, but the words then replace that with Mirarchi’s dark, often blood-soaked verse. Angst with society, commercialism, and relaxing spa treatments are all fodder for Mirarchi’s slanted views. He seems drawn to the external coverings but doesn’t hesitate to remove those and view what lies beneath. Then the verse becomes darker still.

“Tornado” awakens several memories of life in the Midwest’s Tornado Alley but then twists that memory into darker regions.

“Remains” gives a dalliance of play in a sea of regret. Enjoying the vision only sets the reader up for the overall loss at the end.

“Shaved Ice” takes a “normal” relationship but puts it on ice with a gruesome but poignant display.

Two poems of note are “Lost” and “Apple of Anarchy.”

“Lost” deals with what each person has probably experienced coming of age. Angst-ridden, yet boisterous, it delves into social acclimation and common remedies easily personalized by the reader.

“Like many others
Who have been reborn
Via misfortune
He is…

This is just one example of the transformations that are discovered fresh and starkly raw in these pieces. Most of them discuss some transformation or change whether, the physical or mental, or changes in character that life often requires that each make.

“Apples of Anarchy” repeats a concept with three different views. Each one speaks volumes to the reader but is revealed with,

“Still
This suffering is pleasureful (sic)
And a nice antidote…”

That is what this collection becomes, a “pleasureful” antidote to everyday while increasing the reader’s awareness of what takes place around them. In the eyes of a person in a shop, there is deep tragic loss; on the hands of a beautifier there is the stain of compromise; and over all expressions and tributes to beauty, both outward and inward, draw one deeper and deeper into the mystery that is Mirarchi’s poetry. Not for the faint of heart or the queasy, it is still a joy to feel the intensity and passion while realizing the mundane coverings of daily lives are hiding secrets.

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