Christal Ann Rice Cooper on June 6, 2019

Christal Ann Rice Cooper on June 6, 2019
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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

David Robert Books publishes Bill Glose's third poetry collection PERSONAL GEOGRAPHY . . .

Christal Cooper

Excerpts given copyright privilege by David Robert Books and Bill Glose

The Autobiography of Mr. Bill Glose:
Poetry Collection Personal Geography

Bill Glose doing a poetry reading at PoetCon in Norfolk.  Photo attributed to Jeff Hewitt.  June of 2016

       On January 1, 2016 Bill Glose’s third poetry collection Personal Geography was published by David Robert Books.
       Glose’s other two poetry collections are The Human Touch and Half A Man.

       Glose is also the editor of Ten Twisted Tales – an anthology of short story mysteries.

Personal Geography consists of three sections focusing on Glose’s experiences in life.   The first section “Rainy Monday” focuses on his childhood and the influences of his father and the military;  Glose’s relationships with women, including his mother and his past loves are revealed in “Date Night”; and last but not least Glose’s great love affair with writing is concluded in “Weekend at the Coffeehouse.”

       Bill Glose described Personal Geography as more than just a poetry collection.
       “The poems in Personal Geography essentially serve as my autobiography. And white it’s true that Personal Geography contains some war poems, nothing in this book has appeared in either of my other two books.  They are all “new”.

       “Rainy Monday” is centered on Glose’s relationship with his father, an F-4 Phantom pilot in the Air Force who served in Vietnam.  

 John GLose standing on the steps leading up to the cockpit of a T-38 Talon.

       Glose’s relationship with his father is one of pain, fear, and then realization of the good motives of a father who did not know how to express love tenderly. 
An example of this is in “Men of His Generation” when Glose speaks of his father catching him and his sisters stealing a pack of cigarettes from his pack.

                                      Bill and John Glose July 4, 2016

                      He sat us on
hard-backed chairs to chain-smoke
through tears till the floor
was stained with hate.

Each time
we stubbed one out
he’d light another, force it
in our mouths.  We didn’t know
that this was love,
but none of us
ever smoked again.

       Glose uses metaphors and similes and colorful language to describe his upbringing by his father in the poem “Exhuming the Past;” buried secrets of his childhood are compared to that of a buried dog’s favorite bones.  He describes the hiding place of his pain and desires to that of a glossy apple’s skin.  In the second and final stanza he compares his upbringing “as ominous as a scene from Hitchcock.”

                     Logo for The Alfred Hitchcock presents 

       In the poem “Father’s Day” Glose identifies with his father by both serving in the military.  It is this poem that Glose recognizes his father as not a demon or a god but a human being.

                               Bill Glose in military uniform 

               I’d always thought he didn’t need
comfort of words, but wearing my own wavy hair,
hazel eyes like solemn beads, I can finally see

the spear of doubt, colossus reduced to half a man.

The second section “Date Night” begins with poems about love and ends with poems about failed relationships.  Four of the poems are about one woman specifically, who remains unnamed:  “Earrings,”  “Vacation Jar,” “Omission,” and “Renaming the Planets.”

                        Bill Glose and the unnamed love 

The poem that has the most backstory from Personal Geography is “Renaming the Planets,” a poem that came to Glose on a hot August morning in 2006, as he was eating a bowl of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran and reading the newspaper article titled “The International Astronomical Union downgraded the status of Pluto to that of ‘dwarf planet.”

Map showing the members of the International Astronomical Union. Public Domain 

Glose explained in greater detail to me in an interview via email:  “This means that from now on only the rocky worlds of the inner Solar System and the gas giants of the outer system will be designated as planets.”

                The sun and the eight planets  CCBSA3.0 

The article went on to talk about Pluto’s erratic orbit overlapping with Neptune’s and how four other objects orbiting our sun (Ceres, Makemake, Haumea, and Eris) were similar in size to Pluto but not deemed planets.

I didn’t know a lot about our solar system, just enough to name the nine planets by the mnemonic device My Very Early Mother Just Served Us Nine Pies, the name of the outer band of asteroids (the Kuiper Belt), and the fact that the outermost planet, Pluto, had been discovered by an American (Clyde Tombaugh in 1930). This last fact gave me a small sense of pride, as it must have Walt Disney, who named his iconic dog character after the final planet in our system.

Clyde Tombaugh with his homemade telescope he used to discover Pluto.  1930.  Public Domain 

But, like an editor armed with a red pen, the IAU had slashed Pluto from the list of planets and changed our accepted notions like a kick in the gut. I sat there, staring out through my bay window at squirrels bounding through my thick lawn as my cereal grew soggy. How many other times, I wondered, had accepted notions been pulled out from under us to send us tumbling into a new brand of knowledge?

Bill Glose at First Landing State Park.  10-29-2009

I started scribbling in the newsprint margins of my Daily Press: The flat world theory. The land bridge theory. Earth as the center of the universe. After my scrawl filled the available white space, I took my notes to the computer and wrote a poem about the changing views of science. I did some research and added bits about Copernicus and Newtonian physics and so on. Filled with multi-syllable science and hard-to-explain theories, the poem was bad. Very, very bad.

Bill Glose reading at Richmond's Cafe Zata.  June of 2016

After the poem sat for a long while, I read another story in the paper about how the Perseids Meteor Shower would be viewable by the naked eye in the middle of the night. I strolled through my suburban neighborhood that night in search of a dark spot and lay down on the road where the streetlights ended.

The Perseids Meteor Shower striking the sky just to the left of the milky way.  CCBSA3.0 

As I lay there on my back waiting for the meteor shower, my mind drifted. Although I was lying on asphalt aggregate, I remembered lying next to an old girlfriend on a wooden pier in White Lake, North Carolina. That had been during our honeymoon phase, when neither of us saw fault in anything the other did and I was certain we would be together forever. Just like Pluto’s status, that notion was not to be either.

                      Dusk at Whiteface, North Carolina 

As I lay there in the street mulling what might have been, I saw the first streaks of light overhead, bright whispers that flashed for the briefest moments before being swallowed by black. A frisson coursed up my spine. I stared up, and the light show continued, winking sparks that scored the sky. And in the time between, I thought how wonderful it was that science had figured out this coming meteor shower.

                            Bill Glose writing 

When I returned home, I fell upon my old draft of the poem and wove in these personal tidbits from my life, lending soft emotion to its sharp-edged facts. It went through several more drafts before I was satisfied, but the end result was that the science became an accessory to a poem about relationships.”

               Bill Glose with one of his first loves- books!

Two years later, in 2008, Glose submitted, “Renaming the Planets” to a contest sponsored by the West Virginia Poetry Society, which resulted in “Renaming the Planets” winning the Morgantown Chapter Award.

                 Morgantown Chapter Award  Certificate 

Renaming the Planets

Backs on pier’s cool planks, fingers
intertwined, my girlfriend and I
gaze into forever as comets

tear open the sky, bright streaks
winking like distant fireflies.
Beyond them, a dwarf planet sulks

in its orbit. Einstein said nothing
could outrun physics’ laws;
even time must bend to fit its rules.

Yet scientists once declared Earth
center of our universe;
earlier still, that it was flat.

Evolution of what is certain
proves nothing is absolute,
not even a Rockwell scene

of young lovers beside
a lake, waiting for the future
to arrive from heaven.

       My favorite section of Personal Geography is “Weekend at the Coffeehouse” which details Glose’s love affair with writing.  In “Look at What I have Left” Glose compares his experience of writing to drinking a glass of wine, something that frees him and doesn’t constrain him, and something that always has blank pages for him to write, like a half glass of wine, always “waiting to refill it.”
Photo of wine glass attribution unknown

       “Listening to the Great Poet” includes a quote by Natasha Trethewey and focuses both on the writer’s greatest fear, rejection, and the writer’s greatest need, encouragement.

                               Natasha Trethewey GFDL 1.2 

       Glose encourages writers who are rejected continuously in the poem “Support Group” where Glose , with great humor, gives every writer their greatest fantasy: 

                                         Bill Glose on the Eastern Shore 

He could have published my beautiful poem,
the one I’m reading now to hundreds
of rapt listeners, each paying fifty dollars
for the pleasure.  The crowd stands
in ovation, except the editor, who cowers
while I pull from my jacket pocket
his rejection letter, unsheathing it
like a knight brandishing a sword,
ready to vanquish the dragon and bask
in adulation so rightly deserved.

Bill Glose at Shenandoah Park April of 2010 

       In “The World I Imagine,” Glose empowers rejected writers that through his or her words, he or she is able to create a new world: 

The world I imagine is more exciting than the one
I inhabit, where my fingers run across keys in time
with footfalls of the damsel in my tale,
escaping a dragon or simply chasing after a bus. 

                                      Bill Glose in 2013

       In the last stanza of “The World I Imagine” Glose insists that even though he is a creator of this world, he can not be a full participant and instead, must surrender to this living thing within him called the Muse.  It is the muse that is the participant but Glose is the writer, the all powerful one, but only when he is in the process of writing:   

               I am a mute passenger on this bus,
uncertain of its destination until I step off the running board
and find myself in my desk chair,

                                   Bill Glose "Fierce" 

In “the Drowning Muse’ Glose describes the words he writes as saints who pray and describes the writing muse within him as not belonging to him but another being coming to life:

Towering statue of a woman
in my dreams is not my dream
but blue breath of the muse

come to life.

                              Bill Glose January 12, 2010 

       In “Morning Hours” Glose continues to give writers who face rejection great empowerment, by simply suggesting he or she continue to do one thing – to write his or her own world of words: 

Morning Hours

Before dreams dissolve in light of day and real
world strangles life from fantasy, I rise to write.

Imagination is a Minotaur roaming the Earth,
pawing ground to raise the scent of waking dreams.

How delicious those morning hours, when logic
hits snooze, rewinds right hemisphere’s tape,

presses “Stop.”  Away from silver shine of day,
reason blurs like a slowly developing Polaroid.

Images float to surface, stories clinging to their
ankles.  Fingers fly, words become torrents.

A downpour.  A deluge.  My own Atlantis.

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