La Croix Water by Russell Jaffee. Damask Press, 2016.
Reviewed by Dena Abu-Saif
Linking different flavors of water to different human personalities, Russell Jaffe draws the reader into a world of fluidity and observation. While reading, each poem pairs with the speaker’s desire to connect the personality being described to themselves or others. The first piece “Orange” explains what a stereotypical orange personality would be—happy, bright and free:
You’re a real go-doer. Àla carbon dioxide to water. You augur for purity.
This poem sets up the style for the rest of the collection of short, choppy sentences with comparisons at the bottom of the page. The real strength in each piece is these comparisons, because they make the descriptions more real. When discussing people, these comparisons anchor the abstract to reality. From the piece “Lime”:
(An assembly line of hammers) (A roadside factory in the heather) (Thin clouds cutting swaths of the blue sky)
These metaphors intensify the imagery and distracts from the overall theme of La Croix water; however, the aside remains tasteful, acting a as pause which prepares the reader for the next poem.
In the piece “Coconut” the use of alliteration, questioning, and repetition reinforce the urgency of the personality being described. The poem focuses on remembering the past to showcase how emotions of excitement and pride can translate throughout life, not solely in one moment:
Remember when you sold your script? If you haven’t yet you will.
Repetition had a dramatic effect on the soul
So it is flavor has the fashion that has fashion figured out.
All together, the pieces create a visual representation of humanity and how humans can transition between multiple personalities as fluidly as water. The blunt and sometimes abrasive wording makes this piece one to read in these current times.