Final hours of Robert Louis Stevenson laid bare

THE SPEAK HOUSE<br><b>David Howard</b><br><i>Cold Hub Press</i>
THE SPEAK HOUSE<br><b>David Howard</b><br><i>Cold Hub Press</i>
The Speak House is a poem in 57 pentastichs on the final hours in the life of Robert Louis Stevenson.

It is a ''feverish tumble of impressions'' that might have occurred in his final two hours.

This tiny book was written when David Howard was the Burns Fellow at the University of Otago last year.

The in-complete poems (Cold Hub Press, 2011) was an impressive book that contained Howard's poems that have been published.

The Speak House is a nice follow-up to his chapbook Beyond What Is Said to What Is (Cold Hub Press, 2010).

''The Speak House'' is smart, hypnotic, slow and moody:
With the open mouth of a wooden god
an old man knows if your fish is caught by the lower jaw
your girl shares her bed with a ghost.
After she pours cold water, her nipples.
'Are you kind?' Nod but say nothing,
the nothing that must be said. If she grows heavy
blame the angel of the annunciation, shirt
tucked firmly in a fresh pair of trousers.
- That is the young sailor's credo.
His coat black as lava, smile tight as a jailor's handshake

Stevenson's vulnerability is laid achingly bare by Howard. I like the melancholy moments.

- Hamesh Wyatt lives in Bluff. He reads and writes poetry.

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