(poetry chapbook; 2010 - published by Secession Press / email@example.com)
McDade's loquacious but focused tale-poems (each one representing one of the fifty-one states) revolve around longtime friendships, military life/war, classic cars from the '50s and '60s, country music, bars, horse racing and baseball, and beautiful, spirited women.
His free-form verses demand, in a gruff-affectionate tone, that readers immerse themselves in his story-spinning words, something McDade makes easy to do, via mind-branding images, natural-sounding "voice" and references to American historical events that reveal not only a life fully realized with its shocking vagaries, but a country growing into a wildly different state of being, e.g., "A Railroad Night Like Robes":
It was nearly Christmas when boot camp was over,
1963 and Kennedy dead.
A song by a French nun, high on the charts,
piped through the coach often enough
to make you suspect Berlitz was lumped into the fare.
Dominique, nique, nique
S'en allait tout simplement
I chewed Dentyne in case a woman sat next to me,
wondered how long before my hair would grow back.
My face didn't feel like my own
from dry shaving peach fuzz
the Navy found as objectionable as a beard to the deck
Dominic, oh, Dominic
Over the land he plods along
sang a smartass with a hairdo like Elvis
into a cup that surely held more than java. . .
Like most poetry anthologies, this isn't a book you plow through - it's something you savor, steadily, over time, if the poets in question have done their job properly, and McDade has surely done that, with work that has given me new, loftier elements to shoot for when I write: mixing nostalgia, romanticism, hard experience and pragmatism into a delectable blend of excellent, gripping tales that not only define the poet, but his (or her) epochal - yet universal - experiences.
Worth owning, this.