Poetry Collection Review: “Poems for Warriors” by Jason A. Muckley – reviewed by Lauren M. Hancock

Poems for Warriors is a beautiful collection of poetry encapsulating Jason Muckley’s fervent and undulating faith in the Lord, despite occasional struggles, his loving experiences and special occasions with his family, and expressions of beauty in the often harsh and gorgeous world of nature. His collection is divided into four sections:

  • I. Struggle
  • II. Love
  • III. Change
  • IIII. Chestnut Hill, Mass. – October 19, 2015

in which he sings his praises, his strengths, of his joyousness at life with Christ in his life, among other sprinklings of poems of love, strength, and personal measures.

In this first section, Struggle, the poet’s gracious love, gratitude and acceptance of God through his faith shines through in a sparkling yet initially mysterious manner. Upon opening this book, I initially wondered at who the poet was directing his words to in Mercies:

your mercies are new every morning

you give freely to all

and Afraid:

Why do I indulge in distractions instead of pursuing you?

and the ambiguity compelled me to continue forth in discovering the receiver of Muckley’s words. 

I began to gather hints from his collective words from this opening section called “Struggle”. It seems that it is as though he is fighting an inner battle as to whether to accept the Lord into his life, or to push him and his assistance aside. Such a notion is shown in Fighting:

I surrender

You win 

Why does it have to be this way?

Things don’t have to be so hard

Please can we have peace?

Can we get free of these cycles?

In this, I feel Muckley is voicing his angst at how it is difficult to keep the fight up against God, and how when life’s struggles and pitfalls are against him, he wants to be free of the merry-go-round.

I found Psalm an incredibly beautiful piece, speaking of his conversations to the higher power who guides him: 

You lead me through the valley to a place of rest 

to a pasture – green, flowing with life

and who ultimately listens to him:

God you are a God who hears; God your ears are attentive to my voice 

and a power who Muckley wholly reveres:

I love your ways O God, 

Teach me to trust you always, 

Let me be completely yours.

In Muckley’s second section, “Love”, I found such beautiful imagery and feeling that touched me. His poem Mama’s Bread, which speaks of a young child and her mother making bread dough together for family and friends has such a heart-warming touch to it that I had a continual smile on my face the whole reading of it. My favourite lines would have to be:

Her toddler in tow squeezes in to get close to Mama

She eyes the large round ball of dough Mama rolls.

It brought back my pleasant childhood memories when I would bake cakes and cookies with my mother and the wonderful times we had together.

Another warming family moment is covered in Christmas 2015. Here we are treated to images of

the children’s eyes wide with delight”;

joy and glee fill their faces as they see their presents”,

and even more special:

happiness fills the morning air”.

I love how Muckley allows us a glimpse into his family life, and the love and warmth that is shared between each member, shown in his other poems also, especially in The Dance

I find her and hold her

Lips locked together 

She is my chosen,

My wife, my lover,

Forever and ever.

It made me want to breathe a small gentle sigh and smile to myself.

In Love One Another I felt an affinity with the poet in his belief that personal achievements and agendas are lesser in importance to the love for our fellow man, and “recognising the truth is all that matters”. It speaks of the need to acknowledge that not everything is about personal gain in life, and that loving wholly and caring for the well-being of others is a much nobler means of living.

In his third section “Change”, rebellion and change of seasons are spoken of, nature alternating from the barrenness of winter to the newness of spring. It is in this section that the beauty of nature is showcased in several poems, such as Cloud Imagery, Into The Wild, and Of Winter. Each are very descriptive in their imagery, and left me with a warm feeling and sense that I was there experiencing the scene myself.

The simplicity of the poem, Big Melt, which describes when the hardened snow of the winter finally must melt away, and with such an event only beauty could occur, 

A white blanket covers the yard…

Clouds break up

Blue sky opens

Brilliant light melts the dusting.

Muckley’s way with words is very evident here, and assists with gorgeous word imagery. It seems he is quite possibly also speaking of not only a physical change here, but a metaphorical one also, a change within one’s being where we can move on from being hardened and cold to being more open and alive.  

It is not only a physical world that has been shrouded in crisp white snow and hardened ice. This is a period when something is now coming to, back to how he was perhaps, or who he wants to be. Even the worship-themed poems have a sense of asking for help, of celebration and gratitude, of being resilient and freedom in the highest degree. The change and hope from his faith is what drives this section’s change.

From reading the final section, “Chestnut Hill, Mass. – October 19, 2015 ”, I have the feeling this is a rather wonderful place to be. Here in this portion of his collection Muckley speaks of

sun bathing ducks”,

and

a place of rest/a place of peace and quiet

and

receiving rest”.

My favourite poem of this section would have to be Fall Leaves which describes how they change from fresh to old, to make way for the new, to me it is a clear link to Jesus’s resurrection, as well as how we, as mankind, can refresh ourselves, even everyday if we want to, to better ourselves, to become anew.

Leaves turning colors, changing

Dying and passing away

Death opens up new possibilities

New places to grow, to invite new life to spring up

The new cannot arise without death.

I enjoyed this collection and would recommend it to others to read themselves.

“beautiful imagery, a collection which sings of the poet’s faith and praises”

Reviewer: Lauren M. Hancock

Check out Jason’s blog here: Poems for Warriors and purchase “Poems for Warriors” from Amazon as a paperback or Kindle e-book!

Disclaimer: Jason and I traded copies of our books in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

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