Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary


June 9, 2013

Book Review: Microtones by Robert Vaughan Červená Barva Press 2013

Microtones by Robert Vaughan
Červená Barva Press 2013 Gloria Mindock ~ Editor and Publisher

Robert Vaughan’s 2013 release, Microtones from Červená Barva Press contains two dozen prose poems of varying lengths and a variety of rhythms and structures. From the shortest, just four lines, to the longest, going on two pages; Vaughan’s poems are like songs with a hook that make you want to hear them again. Microtones is like a hand carved box filled with little treasures, a leather album with photographs of people and places you want to know more about, or a double record on vinyl with 24 three minute songs you play over and over.

From the opening piece, The Outlaw, right through to Wrestling With Genetics, the poem that closes the book, the arc and flow keeps the reader moving from one poem to the next. However, you can also pick any poem at random and it shines just as brightly on its own.

Vaughan’s writing is deep and nuanced and evokes both a visual and a visceral response. The poems flow with an ease and grace that is musical and lyrical, in language rich with unexpected images and surprising passages that stop you in your tracks and make you slow down, go back, and read them again.

You hang mid-air, arms akimbo, glance askance. Resigned. Jubilant.
As we are when any end is imminent.”

Robert Vaughan is a keen and compassionate observer of humanity; his writing, at times, tender, poignant and sad, yet unsentimental and tough when it needs to be. There’s also a healthy dose of irony and humor and a playfulness with language that is unique and refreshing.

“He’s the tetherball attached to my pole, the flying trapeze of my soul.”

You slide into each poem with so much ease, that, before you know it, you’re off and running. Microtones celebrates the predicaments of the human condition and the ephemeral quality of human relationships, and mourns their passing, while at the same time, still holding hope for the future.

Though Microtones is work from a seasoned author, it is also fresh and exciting new work from a writer just really hitting his stride, an artist who speaks to us, in full, with a vibrant voice, and whom we can expect to hear from again.

Microtones is available from Červená Barva Press

Robert Vaughan’s website is


Funky Little Blaze Orange Pork Pie Hats

Driving into town daydreaming about the dream I had last night. Not the one about my father, but the one about designing a line of men’s wear made exclusively from potato skins with snappy names like Dudz from Spudz, Potato Pants and Tater Tees. I pass fluttery paper cornstalks, vineyards rusting under sullen skies, pickup trucks clustered at trail heads and men with shotguns creeping toward corn fields.

Walt Whitman’s redneck body double is in the diner, writing on a napkin at the counter. Could be a shopping list, directions to his hunting camp, or a new collection of radiant poems. Seems like I’m the only one in the place not wearing green and beige camo and a funky, little blaze orange pork pie hat. Where are the Fashion Police when you need them?

A man and a teenage girl stand at the counter, their hands are covered with blood.
The girl shows off a photo she just shot with her phone of the buck she just shot with her gun.

Walt Whitman says: “That’s a big deer sweetheart! How old are you anyway?”

“Fifteen, but my dad let’s me drive his pickup.” She leaves to wash her hands.

In the grocery store I spot a man in the produce department squeezing bananas. With his meticulously groomed white goatee and wire rimmed glasses, he’s a dead ringer for Sigmund Freud. I want to tell him about the dream I had last night. Not the one about my father, but the one about Henrietta swimming through a sea of roses.

I want to say: “Doctor, would you mind if I lie down on your couch over here by the tomatoes for just a few minutes? I need to tell you about my mother.”

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