Essayist, Logan Pearsall Smith, once said: “There are people who, like houses, are beautiful in dilapidation.” If ever there was a collection of writing that encompassed the magnitude of that quotation, it would be poet, Joshua Mehigan’s, latest collection, “Accepting the Disaster”. The work, which offers readers a critical glimpse at life, demonstrates, much to the likes of Smith, that something beautiful can also be broken.
The collection, which contains over 30 poems, marks the third of Mehigan’s works with his first, a chapbook, “Confusing Weather” and his second, “The Optimist”. The latter work, which was published a decade ago, became the first of Mehigan’s collections to make a significant breakthrough into the world of poetry. Now, with “Accepting the Disaster,” Mehigan has continued to garner limelight.
There is no questioning Mehigan’s intention — his poetry is forceful and direct without favoring mystery. The collection beckons to a past, exhibiting an eloquent form without muddling the message. Instead, Mehigan eases readers into each piece. Moreover, the collection demonstrates intelligence and great rhythmic form, often employing vivid personification with much of his imagery.
As the title suggests, Mehigan draws attention to dilapidation, particularly, the beauty that can be observed in its dismantling — the smallest, most unsuspecting crack in the foundation — leading to a structure’s demise. While dark and unsettling at times, Mehigan seems to articulate that only through opening our eyes, can we see the neighborhood, the church, and our home as more than just a space. Whether empty or full, these places become a part of us. Such is the case with Mehigan’s poem, “The Smokestack,” wherein he writes: “The town had a smokestack. / It had a church spire. / The church was prettier, / but the smokestack was higher. / It was a lone ruined column, / a single snuffed taper, / a field gun fired at heaven, / a tube making vapor.”
One can feel the striking power that is the above poem, which is why it stands out within the collection. Poems “Here,” “The Orange Bottle,” and “Believe It” are also among some of the strongest pieces. Overall, both the maturity and succinctness of the work display the human condition on a deeply reflective and sincere level. Regardless of the sometimes-harrowing topics noted within the work, Mehigan does not shy from understanding each tragedy. Instead, Mehigan draws attention to it — pulling the dusted white sheet to reveal the beauty of dilapidation and disaster one stunning lyrical poem after the next.