Book Review: Love Bones
Book Cover Will be Added Soon
Book Reviewed by Robert Fleming
Love seems to be the emotional fuel for all forms of popular expression. This book's author, Ronald Oliphant, knows firsthand about matters of heart as his poetry attests in its candor and collective power. Growing in the small town of Natchitoches, Louisiana, he moved to Dallas, where the big city quickly won his heart. Sensitive yet clear-eyed in his observations, he released his first book of poems, A Player's Poetry, at the age of 23. Those poems were full of youthful obsessions, hormonal desires, and preoccupations.
The latest book of poetry, Love Bones, shows how Oliphant has matured as a man and a poet. At 35, he understands the respect and courtesy to be shown to a woman who holds herself above reproach. He knows class in a modern Black woman.
In his poem, ’Pretty Lady,’ he calls it like he sees it:
Pretty Lady does not describe your grace, wit, style, or vibe.
In a crowd, you can not hide.
Women hate you, men they try to win your heart,
but from the start; you let them know you are taken.
Or in ’The Joker’ with the mind games where Black men act like a stone, and shut down emotionally when the relationship goes awry:
When you leave, I cannot breathe.
I need your kiss and touch.
What I hide deep inside, I refuse to reveal to you.
One day you're saying you love me
And the next you are saying we're through.
Certain poets have a way of saying things that illuminate and inform. In ’The Scoundrel,’ he highlights the thugs and roughnecks who make a contest of love by scoring romance conquest after conquest:
He brings love, hate, happiness and sadness.
Once he has his fill he leaves her dry and withered.
With titles reflecting love and lust, Oliphant has brought a thoughtful, perceptive book about that most enduring of emotions. The rest of the slender volume telegraphs the contents of the poems with very obvious titles such as ’I Let Her Fly Away,’ ’Cooling The Heat,’ ’Touch,’ ’Virgin,’ ’No One Could Love You More,’ ’Lips Like Wine,’ ’Forbidden Fruit,’ ’Off Beat.’
Like any red-blooded African American male, Oliphant has embraced the time-honored cycles of adulthood and sexual consciousness, permitting himself to feel a tinge of shame and regret. Sometimes he has not told the whole truth to the women he's known. Sometimes he's done them wrong. Sometimes he's betrayed them.
With the signature poem, ’Growing Up,’ he comes clean and confesses that sometimes he has not been a good boy. Now he wants to grow up and be a mature adult in his relationships with the ladies.
Finally, a breakthrough, my eyes are open wide.
The relentless pursuit of fast women has me all tuckered out.
I was a nasty boy looking for the nastiest of girls.
I thought I knew what life was all about.
I wanted money, cars, nice clothes and to screw beautiful movie stars.
I was wrong. The world needs love.
I need love. I am going to relentlessly search for love
And I will give love to all I meet.
God forgive me for being so selfish and greedy.
I may have broken many beautiful smiles. Ladies please forgive me.
Reading Love Bones reminds the reader of listening an smooth
old school Motown jam ’ direct, heartfelt, and life-affirming.