The poems in The Broken Face explore a sacramental, imaginative vision within contexts of crime, perception, memory and love. In this collection, Russell Thornton returns to the vital themes of intimacy and family, loss, fear and hope, bringing to each poem the essential quality of a myth or incantation. Reverent and revealing, within those familiar relationships he ushers in a connection with something transcendent: “A man has come floundering late in the night / to stand alone at the shore of a sleeping infant’s face.”
The poems capture life at the periphery, whether describing homelessness or incarceration, or even the universal experiences of aging and mortality, love and fear of love, all of which bring the speaker into a detached yet energized state of watching and waiting: “the door that was my grandfather into our passing lives / will arrive at a house where each of us is his own door / that opens on our first selves, fundamental together.”
With intense lyricism, Thornton displays a mastery of craft so complete as to be nearly invisible. While stunningly beautiful, his imagery is also in such complete service to the deeper emotional resonance of each poem that it feels inevitable, and contributes to making the collection deeply moving.
“Russell Thornton’s The Broken Face demonstrates an admirable versatility of variation in form, line length, imagery, and subject matter.”