“All nature, from the crag windbreakered in granite/that melts into the nuzzling of the clouds’ wet snouts | Review of “Afloat” by John Reibetanz (2013) Brick Books

Water is the most abundant substance around us therefore we take it for granted. It is necessary for our survival yet too much of it could kill us too. John Reibetanz takes a dramatic look at water in his book Afloat, and gives us pause to reflect on this element.

The Love of Water (Excerpt) – page 3

All nature, from the crag windbreakered in granite

that melts into the nuzzling of the clouds’ wet snouts

to the motes of grit that rise up every morning

and dance in a fountain over the windowsill,

all nature wants to be water. Curled tongues of fire

and sharp tongues of wind stutter and lisp through forests . . .

Reibetanz has a brilliant insight to explain to readers the conditions of water and is clearly able to explain what he thinks. His poems provide a clear and flowing new perspective to reader’s minds.

The Vineyard (Page 15)

How long will it take, when my body is stored in the cask

of the earth, for hands to offer up the bone and muscle

of grasp and fist, and become the undulating, light-filled

fine-veined hands of vine leaves? How long for the backbone’s steel shaft

to soften into a questioning whisper, coiling and

resting on whatever support the earth comes up with? How

many tides for thought to purge itself of edge and corner

and be poured into the sea-polished roundness of the grape’s

sweet flesh?  And how long before blood, shuttling through its tunnels,

becomes this unbound flowering, this blushing face that needs

no mirror because it is one, giving the world the world

dyed into rose heart and rising as the scent of morning.

This is a book worthy of a quiet afternoon. Reibetanz is brilliant with his words and phrasing here and worthy of being reviewed again and again.

Water and Clay – (excerpt) page 24


A marriage doomed to failure, more deeply

conflicted than he says tomayto, she

says tomahto, more incompatible

than night owl and rooster. Water all leap


and light, clay buried in its bed; water

spilling secrets, clay’s lips sealed. She’s thin-skinned,

takes everything in; he’s thick as a brick.

Yet, matched against mortals, a winning pair.


As Flood and Slide, both take our breath away,

and the trickle, seep, and swell, of water’s

more subtle moves baffle us as well as

the heavy going a shovel finds in clay.

While water may be very abundant around us, crafted words like John Reibetanz’s Afloat are few and precious. This is a book to be savoured and enjoyed.

Link to Brick Books’ website for “Afloat”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s