We’ve all shamelessly done it. Don’t even try to deny it. We’ve all made sure no one was about before throwing a handful of battered delight into the air for hungry bellies. Savages of the sea they sit in wait for scraps and rubbish to devour. You can never only feed one, they travel by the dozen and swarm like a plague the minute they get wind of that sweet tasty french fries.
Today I am kicking off the Fly On The Wall Poetry blog tour for Birds Who Eat French Fries (Published December 2019) By Michael Maul. A big thank you to Fly On The Wall for sending me a copy from the author to review, always appreciated. Thank you! I feel honoured to be the first stop! Let’s go and discover some poetry dear reader!
About The Author
Michael Maul resides in Bradenton, Florida, living near Sarasota Bay. His poems have previously appeared in numerous literary publications and anthologies in the U.S. as well as in Ireland, Scotland, and Australia. He is also a past winner of the Mercantile Library Prize for Fiction, for a short story set in Siesta Key, and his work was selected for inclusion in Intro 4, an anthology of new voices published by The University of Virginia Press. Maul is a graduate of the Ohio University creative writing program, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He later held faculty and administrative positions at Ohio University (Athens, Ohio,) The Columbus College of Art and Design (Columbus, Ohio,) and Saint Louis University (St.Louis, Missouri.)
Birds Who Eat French Fries
Michael Maul’s second collection is packed with humour and charismatic reflections on the puzzling nature of human existence, juxtaposed with the ingenuity of the animal kingdom! Unafraid to tackle large topics such as hate speech and abusive relationships, Maul takes the reader on a journey which has all the complexities and wonders of modern life.
From the moment I began reading I was intrigued. Maul opens with a quote by Ada Blenkhorn, (1899) a poet and gospel song lyricist. It speaks about how there’s a dark and troubled side of life but there’s also a bright and sunny side too. Part One of Maul’s book quotes the dark and troubled and Part Two quotes the sunny side. This gentle switch between the two sections blends well and gives the reader that sense of comfort that where there is bad there is always good. There is always a balance.
There’s a dark and a troubled side of life;
There’s a bright and a sunny side, too;
Tho’ we meet with the darkness and strife,
The sunny side we also may view
Extract from Keep On the Sunny Side By Ada Blenkhorn
There is a strong theme of goodbyes and past lives in Maul’s poems. He speaks of a young girl he used to know in school and how her arms were often blue clouds. Later he realised what this meant and by then she has moved away and often wonders of her fate. He sends you on a trip of curiosity as your mind wanders to your own past, thinking of old friends and where they maybe today.
In Trees That Dot The Road Maul writes of how now whenever he takes a stroll it’s like walking though corpses. It pulls at your heart as you can only read on as Maul says goodbye to more and more friends on his journey. He knows that this is the way of life and copes with understanding that more within his poetry. It’s therapeutic and a long, difficult lesson to learn.
The world is forever evolving and we just happen to get caught up in its madness. Maul writes how birds today should be just that; birds. Instead we get thieving vicious seagulls that terrorise the beach as they have adopted an attitude of, ‘what they are eating is good enough for me.’ They become lazy. It’s scary to see how quickly things can change.
They were made for better things:
to float on waves,
to search for schools offshore,
or perch above the Earth,
to scan for signs of prey
they enjoyed in former days.
But junk food birds have since learned
to open crumpled bags
and, with beak and claw,
to dine on human throwaways.
Extract from Birds Who Eat French Fries
What I enjoyed about Maul’s poetry is how observant it is. The little details that others often miss or are too busy to see. He sees objects and clothing in their materialised forms when the owner has passed on. It comes alive with the person, dancing and twirling with life. Maul acknowledges this in a few of his poems, especially America Doll and shows how once someone is gone, that their possessions are lifeless. It’s a somber fact to admit but the person does make the outfit, the object, whatever it was, because they brought a certain Je ne sais quoi.
It softy sang when she wore it.
But today, it’s just cotton-weaved
and plastic buttons on a sleeve.
Doll clothes on an American girl.
The Holy Spirt
stays busy reclaiming things,
returning magic to the wizard’s hat
and stuffing one cherished things
into unceremonial stacks.
Extract from American Doll
My favourite poem out of this collection is For Those Who Wish Mermaids Weren’t Extinct. And it’s not because it talks of manatees which I love but of how something magical has slowly aged over time. It reminded me of how we transition from children into adults. We start out as young, carefree and in awe of everything. Simple things like bubbles and jumping in puddles is the most fun thing ever. Then we grow up and all that wonder and fun fades to grey and we no longer recognise ourselves. It’s a factual part of life but who’s to say we should stop believing. We may have added on a few pounds and wrinkles but we can still create sorcery with a flick of our wand.
But as the centuries passed, they aged,
and let themselves go to sea
where they became
confused with manatee
Extract from For those Who Wish Mermaids Weren’t Extinct
I give Birds Who Eat French Fries By Michael Maul a Four out of Five paw rating.
An engrossing and thought provoking read that forces you to sit up and become more observant of the world that surrounds us. Maul’s poetry speaks to all and is relatable on various levels. You find yourself nodding along, agreeing that you have felt like that and understand what he means. He unites everyone together. He connects us all with nature and it’s amusing little ways that bring a smile as you watch the seagulls bob relentlessly on the open sea. Chip anyone?
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!
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