Review of Paul Brookes’ ‘Wolf Eye’,  published by The Red Ceilings Press

This collection, with its black cover showing a striking animal eye, is a bold dive into human perception – about letting perception run riot, seeing ’the grain in the clouds’, looking through ‘two full lunar spheres’ to see a place where ‘trees become lampstands ready/for the moonlight bulbs to be switched on’. The Wolf Eye makes the surreal everyday, turns everything into metaphor. 

There is an intense focus on bones  –‘ this morning sky is a blue bone’, ‘Every word is a bone /coming out of your mouth’. And later, in the last poem, ‘Bones In’, he urges us to ‘read the bones’.

 Paul Brookes takes the humdrum and makes it into art, sometimes with tongue in cheek– for example, in ‘My Mop Bucket’, he boasts, ‘My floors are landscapes. /Spillages become portraits.’

In the final stanza, he rhapsodises: ‘To see the world in a mop/and Heaven in a bucket’.

The Wolf Eye has a primitive view of the universe, interpreting what it sees, in terms of other parts of the natural world. It perceives the sky as a skull, ‘one eye is the moon/ one eye is the sun’  and solar systems as ‘tree rings of planets’. The cold is ‘sheer stone catching your skin’. 

The actions of the nerves and brain are likened to streams of water: ‘synaptic rivulets, neuron canals, sacred water/ riverbrain flows in my head’

We get short snapshots of human society. ‘Mouse skitters between/soft drink and alcohol aisles.’ But for me, the most pleasing poems are those that deal with and interpret the natural world in a delightfully experimental way, as in ‘The Cloud Breakers’ where ‘frost formats fences, branches/ White margins widen.’

One of the words used most often in this intriguing book is ‘gust’. In the last hand-written poem in this little book, Paul writes ‘skies briefly assemble /skeletons, temporary constructions/ gust experiments’. This focus on gust is apt, because there is an impression that the poet’s attention,  his perception, is blown and swayed by gusts of metaphor, always surprising and always a fresh interpretation of something we all take for granted.