Review: Think of the Danger by Thea Brown (reviewed by CarlaJean Valluzzi)

theabrownThink of the Danger

by Thea Brown

94  Pages

H_NGM_N BKS, 2016


ISBN: 978-0990308256



The title of Thea Brown’s debut collection is a question. Immediately, the work is asking something of us – asking us to do something. Thank the gods, I smile to myself, this isn’t going to be easy! We must pass beyond the simplicity of “better the devil you know . . .” and forget to be frightened [1]. We must pull / back from danger like / pulling back gauze / to examine an opening [2].

Think of the Danger comprises 54 poems split almost equally between four sections. A similar yet not-quite-as-obviously-familiar devil to the one mentioned previously is most certainly found here in the details. Each one carries a feeling somewhere between an introspective cogitation and a Zen koan, a cautious offering. Each one is a prism, casting a spectrum of possible interpretations upon the blank wall that faces it, the blank face of the reader lucky enough to be holding these jam-packed ninety-some-odd pages in hand.

The poet steers us through vast landscapes literal and figurative, terrestrial as well as social; from substratum to canopy, oceanfronts to hedge mazes to the oxidation on a tractor left to only the work of a monument. Each is part of a world we might pass through on a daily basis, though here we are Into a new medium, left without guide but the line undecayed [3] and as such, must read carefully so as to discern the clues interspersed amongst gem-laden stanzas.

There is mention of time, throughout, and the weight of it. There is the unreliable nature of our memories, thin as crepe paper with none of the party [4]; the burden of trusting memory proof,  / . . . / withholding, redefining two truths / . . . / historical nostalgia, uncomfortable closeness / To recalled misinformation [5]. There is wild fire, attended to yet unvanquished, and the inevitable, natural catharses that follow. Tree splits after the storm, not during [6]. Relationships hover, spectres shimmering behind White roses just overbloomed. / . . . / mean like / the inside / of a music box minus the dancer and Someone else will / clean this up, from now on. [7]

It seems we often find ourselves in the company of the narrator as guests at several parties we aren’t sure we wished to attend, environs that seem to enlarge and bring further into focus a sense of small abandonments—committed by others or self-imposed—that verge on an unbearableness which warrants only escape, most often through a doorway that provides refuge through a return to the nature.  But there are other parties between these pages, written of with an urgency to preserve on paper a kind of intimacy at once so essential and so ephemeral.

Every turn of the page feels almost like a hangnail catching the silk of a stocking: the thrill of little private, personal destructions; with each simple action of pulling, more of what lies beneath the surface is revealed.

In the end, although she alludes in at least one poem to the struggle inherent within it, Thea Brown respects us enough to forget us. That takes . . . courage.y

 CarlaJean Valluzzi

Poems Quoted:

[1] Proxy

[2] Go

[3] Gallery

[4] What Else Is

[5] Rueful Dilettante, Full Of Feeling

[6] Regrets

[6] Wedding Greens


y A line from Hannah Green in Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys.


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