Paper Dolls

Bob Garner

Well-known Chico writer/visual artist Bob Garner’s poems—like his sketches and tiny watercolors—are nothing if not succinct. Garner always manages to relay deep layers of meaning to his reader/viewer employing the sparsest of vocabulary or brush stroke. His newest poetry chapbook—a collection of a dozen short poems titled Paper Dolls (available at Lyon Books)—is classic, satisfying Garner. “Memory Loss” and “The Dream” are two of the book’s best; it is fitting that these poems are opposite one another in the centerfold position of the stapled book. “I forget/ what actually happened/ that warm afternoon/ on the lake/ in the long shade/ of sugar pine,” begins “Memory Loss,” before going on to get even more specific about a love relationship that the speaker in the poem claims to have forgotten the details of. It’s a clever, thought-provoking poetic move on Garner’s part. In “The Dream,” Garner writes: “His heavy-whiskered cheeks/ cave in./ She brings more tea/ but he/ is deep/ into the country of night.” Anyone who has heard Garner read his work out loud will appreciate these lines as quintessential Garner; you can hear his calm, almost-drawl as you read them. Come to think of it, a Paper Dolls audio-chapbook sounds like a darned good idea.