Ride of My Life is a terrific new book of poems by Julie Cummings, poet laureate of Ziggies blues bar in North Denver. The book’s cover shows a long, green and white driverless 1960s Impala parked outside Ziggies on West 38th Avenue. The driver, of course, is inside this juke joint of a poetry collection with its complete set of raw lines and a backbeat of intimacy to make your toes curl. The book itself is a beauty—a horizontal read of sixty pages, with a clean, fresh look and colorful photographs. It is work of art by Mercury HeartLink.
Written free verse and prose poems, letter poems and words of love, it is directed to you–love in the making, broken love, love happening right now. Cummings uses direct address to woo you when she begins with “let me tell you. . .” and she does tell you, the way lovers expand their love by speaking to each other about their love. And she captures love in process, as in Blues Babe, where she acknowledges “what is being composed here.” She speaks confidently, bravely, with a comforting presence to a you that might be a particular You but also might just be You the reader, the one who wants to ask: where are you?….I’m here, the poet says, at “the edge of the bed,” or “riding my bike home.” And what are you doing? you ask her. “I’m writing this poem,” she says.
These words come from the unmediated mind that questions: Why didn’t you just wear slippers in the house? She will let you know she knows you: “At night I will place the palm of my hand on the small of your back. You will not be able to sleep until I do.” She will treat you to a naughty supper in a Taste of Soul and work you over until, after you finish reading these poems, you might know what it feels like to be known, and well-loved and to be driven a little crazy by it.