David Oates brings humor in The Deer's Bandanna


The Deer’s Bandanna

David Oates

Brick Road Poetry Press

$15.95

David Oates’ new collection The Deer’s Bandanna delights. Composed almost entirely of haiku, Bandanna moves between the personal and the cosmic, between nature and man, and between the highs and lows of the grand comedy of life. Oates’ dry timing balloons much of Bandanna and sets it aloft. Oates reminds us that without grace and a sense of humor, life’s trials and banal struggles can weigh us down.

Because the poems are short, Brick Road (mostly) prints two poems a page, and at nearly 100 pages in length, Bandanna showcases almost two hundred poems. Oates covers dozens of themes and tropes and moves between the natural, the quotidian and the often tragic world of man. If there is an overarching theme it is the folly of life. Oates’ sharp eye and ear reveal the wonder, the humor, and the tragedy of modern life.

Early on in the collection, Oates offers this gem:

shining in the sun

plastic bags woven

in an osprey’s nest

A sharp haiku that somehow manages to both be a warning of pollution and a celebration of life. The osprey's the hero and the victim, and humankind, a careless caretaker. Not that Oates is soapboxing in this collection, far from it. Oates is a joyful observer of domestic life, of the neighborhood, and of the family.

following fire truck

into our street

did I turn off the stove?

nice to be a grown up

making my own decision

about a nightlight