Selected Verses
C.S. Scott Jr.
& Jeffrey Neal Cooper

Review by Alyce Wilson

C.S. Scott Jr. and Jeffrey Neal Cooper are clearly friends who have decided to enter the self-publishing arena with some low cost poetry booklets, featuring their own artwork and such fun items as, say, the board game which comes with this one.

I'm not sure why Scott and Cooper decided to team up, except that perhaps they liked the idea of collaborating. Their work is similar enough that it makes for a seamless blend of material. Perhaps not surprisingly, their strengths and weaknesses are similar.

The weaker poems fall prey to either over-sentimentality or overly violent imagery.

Perhaps in response to some of Scott's more macabre poems, Cooper writes, in "I Wish to Thank You for Not Pulling the Trigger, But...":

You made me see a vision I did not want to see
I close my eyes and there it is
Hideous, disfigured troll
Satan's messenger
Raping me, taunting me

In an even more gorey poem, "Remember Liberty," Cooper writes:

Miss Liberty slashes her wrists
Lays down in the waters where she once stood tall
Red fluid swirls with the blue water
Staining her white dress as she floats by


Blood, tears, in death she still can't sleep
Only those who witnessed her hideous death
Heard her cry, felt the anguish as she fell
Witnessed the razor dig into her wrist
Might... truly remember Miss Liberty.

While violent imagery may be effective, when it is overdone, or when it is used as a substitute for conveying emotion, then it is problematic.

As an example of oversentimentality, Scott's poem "Glass Notes" tells of a man who meets a woman through a wrong number and then arranges to meet her. He decides to leave without saying hello when she's not as pretty as he'd imagined.

In the final stanza, Scott writes:

If he had turned back
he would have seen
the lady by the clock board her bus
with black fumes choking the air
as a window shopper tries to check her watch
to the time on the large dial
she cannot see
through the smoke and empty tears
as she turns to leave.

This sort of imagery is forced, reaching for obvious emotions, rather than a more realistic and therefore more genuine depiction.

As far as their strengths are concerned, both Scott and Cooper use humor effectively. For example, Jeff Cooper's poem, "Loko Over There, I Could Love Her," in which the speaker prefers a woman with "yellow charcoal roots," "self inflicted cigarette tattoos" and "eyes of anguish bleeding" over a woman with "natural golden long rich radiant hair" "plump ripe strawberry lips" and "frame carved from fine marble."

Scott is equally successful in the poem, "Receding Lines," where he ponders that it would be easier, as a bald guy, to attract women if he could had a better story, such as a millionaire father or a fatal disease.

Both do well with storytelling and narrating, such as "Hot Nights in Vegas," also by Cooper, which tells the tale of a gambler who falls into a life of crime. Or likewise, Scott's "Pictures in a Ball of Wax," which is a series of vignettes, such as "A woman sleeps / with the quilt pulled to her chin / and dreams / of a young ballerina."

Clearly, Scott and Cooper have no grand illusions, as evidenced by the enclosed sticker which says, "Purchase Our Books and Burn Them in Hatred." The back of the book lists "Top Fifteen Reasons for Buying This Book," which include "Mad Dog ain't cheap," "It's a picture book" and "Goes well with Kool-Aid."

The best poems in this collection show potential. It's encouraging to see writers who clearly take joy in writing and who are working to make a space for poetry in the world.

Copies available from: Charlie Scott, 515 Norma Lane, Norristown, PA 19401