Agave Blood, Poems by Bill Frayer
Reviewed by James Tipton
Popular Lakeside author Bill Frayer has just published another fine collection of poetry: Agave Blood. The first, and longest, section, “Mexico,” celebrates Bill’s deepening connection with Mexico and its people and his discovery of the “delicious now,” where he is learning “That my present moment/Is all I have/And, indeed, all that I need.”
These poems are about many things Mexican: for example, Guadalupe, who hangs “from the mirrors of rusty old trucks,” and who inspires and protects; and a little girl in a poor village whose “black braids neatly draped” stirs up love in the poet’s heart; and “The Rubber Tree” at Lake Chapala Society, which presides over the writers who sit beneath it “to speak, and to listen/And to finally speak their truth”; and “The Old Mariachi,” who is “Too tired to be young/And too proud/To stop being/A Mariachi.”
The second section, “Points North,” reflects on the nation that he has left, where, aside from family, he feels less and less connection: “I now look at Maine/With Mexican eyes/And shudder.” In this same nation to the north, old friends “…have evolved/Into strangers/Who I only recognize/As shallow shells.” For soldiers in Iraq who “are dead forever,” Bill asks: “Why did you die?/Were you fighting/For a better way of living,/Or were you/Just unlucky?”
In the third section, “Metaphysics,” the poet ponders, often playfully, more philosophical matters, and these include his own loss of “unambiguous belief” as well as recognition that he is beginning to see more and more with his heart.
Bill also accepts and embraces his own life, which has become more and more simple. “My Favorite Clothes” begins this way: “I hope to live to completely/Wear out all my favorite clothes.” It concludes:
And if I time it right
I’ll be left with
One fine, faded shirt
And a comfortable pair of pants,
Thin at the knees,
Which will be available for rags
When I leave the building.
This is one of those little books that I like to keep on the night stand or on the kitchen table or car seat to return to, one or two of them at a time. Everyone at Lakeside will find Bill’s poetry both accessible and delightful.
, $100 pesos, may be purchased at Diane Pearl’s Colecciones (Colon #1, Ajijic) or through the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org