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Peter Krok
for an

Looking for an Eye follows in the long tradition of quest literature.  The poems here are replete with searching; existence is interrogated relentlessly.  Pablo Neruda's Book of Questions may contain more questions than does Peter Krok's collection, but his runs a close second.  “Corners” portrays a child who is the poster-child for the book: “So much he doesn't understand, / he keeps raising his hand.” And each time he does, another poem appears.  Yet Krok appealingly eschews any heroic, inflated tones; after referencing a cricket, he wryly and modestly asks, “what kind of noisemaker / would you call me?”  Krok's “noise” is welcome.  Consistently unafraid to expose his vulnerability, Krok in effect reminds us of Yeats' idea that poetry arises from a “quarrel with ourselves.”  In the forceful “My City,” Krok writes of “restless arteries,” the city's, but they could be the arteries of this book.  Readers who “have no answer for the dusk” will find a home here.
                                                                                          Philip Dacey

One of Peter Krok's poems asks, “Do the consequences of our questions / make us what we are?” From the evidence in Looking for an Eye, one surmises that Krok's own answer is yes, because he poses us to the self-defining questions poets insist on posing. Like Frost's “Acquainted with the Night,” Krok's title poem asks what happens when one drops one's eyes, unwilling to explain. Like the speaker in Frost's “A Minor Bird, the speaker in Krok's “The Disturbance” turns projected anger at another singer into interrogation of his own song. Like Yeats's “To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing,” Krok's “To a Friend Who Suffers” asks about the possibility of consolation. Like Dylan Thomas's “A Refusal to Mourn the Death by Fire of a Child in London ,” Krok's “Constance Adams” interrogates the ultimate value of grief. Poetry makes nothing happen, true' Krok's formulation is “I know it couldn't have been any different.” But poetry is also unwearied, for ever piping sons; Krok's next sentence is “Yet the breath of Windsong still lingers.”
H. L .Hix

A skilled book of poems that strike to the heart about those who “watch” and “wave” and no less those who “never return,” about invisible walls among us, about questions that grow “like a vine in the earth,” about the inexplicable comfort of rain. Profound and endearing are the ways people are enriched by their contexts ? the bocce players silhouetted under the stars, the friend caught in suffering, the echoes of the past that, like the tide, comes back. A warm and well-crafted book with great appeal.
                                                                                 Franklin Reeve

           How unsettling these poems are, and how compelling! Peter Krok writes as if the phenomena of daily life were themselves “looking for an eye”-specifically the poet's keenly attentive eye-to record their own agonizing need to be noted and remembered.
           Nothing about the human condition escapes these poems: the individual's isolation and regret, the painful subtleties of relationships on the brink, the endless human search for “a voice at the other end,” the pull of memory. All of those are here, in poems that take the reader to the funeral of a playmate dead in childhood, the homes and workplaces of the urban poor, the rocking chair where an old man naps with his dog, or the quiet secret spaces of introspection.
Whether the poet speaks for himself or for us all, what he says attests to the unwavering honesty of the eye with which he sees, and the effectiveness of the stark imagery in which he creates the view. Here, in language somewhat reminiscent of Charles Simic, is a recreation center at night, in Philadelphia : “Hours crawl like cats under fenders. The playground shuts its eyes.”
 And here, the final stanza of  “To a Friend Who Suffers” conveys wholly genuine feeling, naked and unmuted by irony:
           If I forged the healing art,
           I'd take your heart and splint
           the broken eggshell of your body.
           I would raise you on my shoulders
           and carry you across the earth.
Peter Krok has put together a collection of poems that cannot fail to communicate at the deepest human level, one that will stay with the reader long after the reading.
    Rhina P. Espaillat

From the book:


Always you return to these streets,
these red brick rows where you grew
from daydream adolescent to daydream father.
Here you served from altar boy to usher.
Here you strolled on solitary evenings
under stars, always asking questions
of life and tomorrow.
Here the gray ancient dome of St. Francis.
The walls arc a stone sense of past
over the ribs of its red brick parish.
Inside, plaster peals beside the figurines
of Stations where whisperers still recite
the Way. In alcoves the faithful
light candles for remembered shadows.
Here Saturday evenings you went
with your white-scarfed mother
to prepare always for the voice
behind the curtain and tomorrow.
When that tomorrow came,
you found your way returning
to the recess of the bells.


My fragile smiling friend,
how tender your limbs,
the branches of your life,
the hurt roots
of  your broken body.

If one could only mend
you back and make you rise
like Lazarus.
I cannot look through your window.
Each bears suffering alone.

How natural your attachment to birds,
to wings, to the mystery of air.
DaVinci couldn't bear to see birds caged,
so he paid the peddler to let them go.
I will not be resigned to poor words.

If I forged the healing art,
I'd take your heart and splint
the broken eggshell of your body.
I would raise you on my shoulders
and carry you across the earth.

Peter Krok was born in West Berlin and he came to the United States
during the Berlin Air Lift. His mother was a German war bride.  He is
editor of the Schuylkill Valley Journal and humanities director of the
Manayunk Art Center where he has been coordinating a literary series
since 1990. He is often referred to as the "red brick poet" because of
his association with red brick Philadelphia where he grew up.  The
connection to the city continues to resonate in his work.  He lives now in
a red brick cape cod house in Havertown, PA.

Looking for an Eye
is a 76 page hand-sewn book with spine - $15.00



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