Peering Into the Sun by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
A review by Chris Butler
Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal’s latest collection of poetry, Peering Into the Sun, blinds the reader with its eclipsing look upon life, love and nature, only to pry open the mind’s eye onto the sun-bathed world.
Nature is a recurring theme throughout this collection, particularly the imagery of the sun and the moon, wild animals and insects and inanimate stones, all set against the unforgiving backdrop of a cold, dark world.
The speaker possesses a special relationship with stones, as they provide a sturdy friend, partner and confidant (in “Converse with the Stones”), but they quickly become silent, leering self-appointed judges towards the speaker (in “The Stones are Watching”), as they appear to hold more human qualities than the speaker himself.
The sun, while primarily centered around the title and title piece of the collection, is counteracted continuously with images of night skies and the moon shine upon several white pages, including “The Glowing Moon” (focusing on the luminosity emitted from the moon upon the dark world), “The Clock of Space” (concerning an inebriated philosopher admiring “the big pill in the sky” while high on something other than life), “The Terrified Stars” (as the moon “hangs on” to shine amongst the stars), “The Night Was on Fire” (as the moon burns like an earthly flame), “Poems on the Moon” (a tribute to Miguel Hernandez describing “his poems on the moon”) and “Under the Green Moon” (as the ghost of Lorca is set against the backdrop of numerous green images, including the sky, stars and moon). The backdrop of the moon throughout the collection cleverly contrasts the title to universally cover the reader’s perception of life, seen by day and night.
An outstanding poem about the animal world emerges in “Four Crickets”, as the night songs of the chirping insects burst with enough sound to fill the earth, but arise from a creature so small that a quartet could fit into the speaker’s hand. On the subject of natural music, “Birdsong” explores the speaker’s unadulterated joy in listening in the world’s singers, birds, as they fill the sky, land and sea with their daily songs. In “The Anger Tree”, the biblical image of the tree in the sacred garden, ripe with snakes and tempting apples is utilized to reflect on the notion that one is created with both external beauty and internal ugliness.
Along with nature, this collection also acts as a reflection of the speaker on not only his past life, but how he presently views himself under the sun. The self-loathing poem “An Odd Face”, shows the speaker in his morning routine of viewing the stranger in the mirror, and his longing to see someone else’s face at least once staring back at him. In “I Used to Sleep All Day”, the speaker unites the act of the sleeping with that of the inevitable eternal sleep of death, ultimately fearing that his persistent insomnia may be sign of his immortality, so he would never be able to get a good night’s rest again.
Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal’s Peering Into the Sun invites the reader to bask in the warming glow of many of its poems, but quickly extinguishes the light into the darkness of daily life, shining upon each and every emotion of the reader.