The Turning of Wheels
Author: Larry Schug
"The Turning of Wheels, Larry Schug's third collection of poems, is a cogent demonstration of how to get from the very small to the very large in simple American idioms.
"Schug is a master of the carefully observed detail. 'The Red Wing crockery mixing bowl' his mother once owned, 'where pies and cakes and cookies, / enough to sate six boys / where I meet her again.' The hands of a farmer scrubbing from field work slide 'around each other / Like sweaty August lovers.' A 'rusty old nail' worries about competition from 'all those new nails, / galvanized, level-headed, / straight and sharp, / wearing identical / silver suits and hats' who 'are looking / for the same job I am.'
"Out of these small daily observations comes poetry that faces and confronts all the big questions: mortality, social justice, what one generation owes the next. Confronting his brother's death ('Mike's dead and I'm not'), the poet pledges to 'make love to life every way I can,' keeping his brother alive inside him. Abandoned harmonicas, 'blues harps in glove compartments / and kitchen junk drawers' speak of the unrealized potential of life of 'blue notes / comatose behind black holes. / Waiting, waiting, waiting for a breath / to blow them back to life.' The poet drinks with Walt Whitman, and when he proclaims, 'This glass of beer contains the universe,' we believe him.
"These are lovely, encouraging, skilled poems by a man whose work gets better all the time."
"In these poems, one discovers a life that, through the practice of poetry, has found depth, meaning, and a sense of the sacred. Larry Schug loves his life. He loves his wife, his friends, his home, and his physical work, and these poems are proof of this. They brim with good humor. Sometimes they are strange and inventive, sometimes hip and bluesy; mostly they are straightforward and bristling with the finely observed detail of a life well lived. They are a joy to read."