“Book Review: Saturday Night Sage”
Reviewed by Joshua Ryan Bligh
The poems of Saturday Night Sage are a torrent of frustration and enlightenment that shifts tempo, topic, and theme without missing a step.
Just shy of a hundred pages, these poems by Noah C. Lekas are as tumultuous as a long night of jazz. You’ll be nodding your head along to its alternating rhythms and mind-rending imagery until the sweat drips down to your chin and the bars ring out last call. Then you’ll wake up the following morning a bit stiff and nauseous, with the nagging sense that you’ve learned something.
Lekas starts his collection without holding back. The titular “Saturday Night Sage” blends religious evocations and the trials of a divergent’s pilgrimage into a pounding verse that is at once industrial and celestial. Allusions to mythological beings, sayings, or practices pop up throughout the collection, an erudite counterpoint to the worldly scenery and bursts of profanity, unable to be held back amidst the frustration with modern life.
Discontent pervades the works of Saturday Night Sage. The poems tell the story of a speaker who sees the world, is part of the world, sees the world’s ills—and is working through reconciling its shortcomings with the potential he sees in it. This dissatisfaction comes to an early crescendo in “Steamroll the Sky” and never truly abates. Nothing is safe from being brought down a notch: hypnotists (“Approaching a Hypnotist”), deities (“Empty Your Pockets), and especially drunks (“Every Drunk”).
will there be
Then without warning, the walls come down for “Midwestern,” perhaps the most accessibly intimate poem of the collection. Loss and irascibility are still present, and the critique remains, but the images and the narrative of the poem show another side to Lekas, one that stands out amid the smoggy venues and abstract realms of the other pieces.
In Saturday Night Sage, Lekas wields elements of Bukowski and of the Beat poets, to tell the tale of a bar-visiting, cigarette-rolling, whisky-slurping wayfarer who has come face to face with Dharma and lights up anyways. If you are looking for glamour or traditional romantic embellishment, it’s not here. What you’ll find instead is an honest, and often raw, look at a world that has a lot going for it, and a lot to learn.
Publisher: Blind Owl
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