Too Much of Water, by Robert J. Wilson-Print Books-Bottlecap Press

Too Much of Water, by Robert J. Wilson

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Robert J. Wilson
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Poetry, chapbook, 28 pages, from Bottlecap Features.

We see Ophelia following the path of her flowers downstream, and Laertes, forbidding his tears, dry drown in his own grief and compulsion for revenge. Too Much of Water is formed from those same emotions of loss and longing alongside rivers, lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico where I grew up and where I live. The images in the poems are drawn from my experiences and from people with as diverse backgrounds as a literary celebrity like Penelope to Hannah Fisher, a lost young woman, the victim of gun violence.

The tone of the poems is thoughtful and reflective. A truant and her boyfriend skip school to trespass on a private beach where they see “empty vacation rentals crowding one another for a better view of the end of Florida”, and beachcombers are reminded to search for “shells impaled on the branches of the tough bully shrubs” after a hurricane passes. The person who carved the initials of their lover on a banyan tree reflects that “night is in the waterways/blossoms are in the sky.”

The language of the poems is precise, chosen with care. Often voices are given to the oppressed who cannot speak for themselves. A woman who acted as her sister’s mother is 60 now, with “a piece of hard plastic and a limp sown in her hip”, and the poor who have nowhere to escape Hurricane Ian are found “floating against their ceilings.”

The poems in Too Much of Water can be unsettling (“we watch our step as we switch the hands that carry our own basket of knives”) and they can be tender (“we’ll always share the taste of what I now recognize as sweet cicely, the flavor of anise and celery-like scent of lovage”). The poems enter the water to discover what is beneath our reflections and our despair.

Robert J. Wilson is a writer whose poems have most recently appeared in The Naugatuck River Review, Quarter Press, and SoFloPoJo, and whose chapbook, Who’s Who Among American Teachers, was released by Nat 1 Press in 2022. His poem "Dolphin Tour" was nominated for Best of the Net in 2023. He lives beside the ocean in Cape Haze, Florida.