The 48 poems that John F. Buckley presents in Sky Sandwiches follow food and family over an unexpected narrative arc. From the title I expected food, and Buckley does not disappoint. More than food though I found a speaker desperately trying to connect to family and cope with a dysfunctional childhood.
The recency of the second poem “Progress” was slightly off putting; calling something “Romeylicious” right on the heels of an over publicized Presidential campaign took me away from the otherwise fresh images. I particularly liked the line “Bruce Kardashian is/a dyslexic poem whom won an Olympic gold medal in 1976” from the same poem.
It was the poem “A Promise” that really brought me around to this collection, which is soundly out of my personal wheelhouse of straightforward verse. “A Promise” starts with just that, “This story doesn’t end well for any of them,” and it closes with that promise coming to fruition. It does not end well at all. “The first boy is bloody and broken,” the “reader is, so far, left unfulfilled,” and everyone “will inevitably meet horrible deaths.” I won’t spoil that last two lines, but they are beautifully spiteful. This is kind of poem you hurl at someone after a fight.
I was most attracted to the second half of the collection. The later poems, such as “Accounting Time” and “Organic Chemistry,” balance the food imagery with family tension best. The later poems feel more at ease with themselves, having dropped the navel gazing seen in “Progress” and “Envy.”
When I read poetry I dog-ear the pages that grab me, for good for for ill. Here is my Dog Eared Count for Sky Sandwiches:
Progress; A Promise; Aching for a Knack for Charcuterie; The Appointment; Saturday, 10:30 AM; Avoidance; Accounting Time; Respite; Recipe for a Hex; Organic Chemistry; Eco Poem; Storefront Church; Pilgrim’s Progress
Overall Sky Sandwiches is an enjoyable read with many quirky turns of phrase that keep it light despite some heavy emotions.