Christian McPherson
At Bay Press, 2020
278 Pages
Reviewed by Chris Beaton

Walking on The Beaches of Temporal Candy is a collection of poetry split into two sections: the first being “Poems Written Travelling Around the Sun” and “Poems Written On The Walk To Work.” Both sections make use of fantastical imagery and gritty language to examine the notion of time, particularly when it passes slowly at jobs for which the employee lacks passion or during moments of anxiety over quotidian life when the strain and anger builds to a crescendo.

McPherson unabashedly shares his worldview with those willing to listen. The book is dedicated “To those who go to a job every day, but dream of something more.”

The collection has a motif of an astronaut walking that recurs on every right-hand page, slowly moving across the pages until he departs on the final one. Despite this, McPherson’s poems aren’t flighty; instead they are grounded in the everyday perspective of a father and husband observing the world around him. He is often cynical as he asks readers to question their daily lives, how we function and why.

In “The Clocksmith” McPherson thinks of a neighbor who was a clocksmith and when he dies all of his knowledge will disappear, fade from existence.

Strangers he passes on the street are part of his daydreams and walking commentary. These people become his muses, sparking a creative output to escape his monotonous life. Work is a prison cell and the walk there is an escape.

McPherson flirts with the idea of another life when he is with younger women, working his dream job, but he questions if this life would be more fulfilling. Thoughts are different than actions, and at the end of the day it becomes clear he is happy with his family. He loves his wife and children and that makes his day job more tolerable. It transforms apathy, distaste, or even hatred, into a passion of a different sort. Providing for his family and being with them is a lifetime accomplishment he can appreciate.

In “The Implicit Understanding Between the Cashier and Me,” McPherson and a check-out clerk share a knowing look acknowledging the ridiculous rules of interaction. The two repeat niceties like robots forced to live the same conversations over and over. Simple transactions and acts of complicity keep society “from burning to the ground.”

In his poems, saltshakers are screaming, work is compared to religion, and a homeless man fires bolts of electricity from his fingertips to connect to those around him. The second half of the book entitled “Poems Written on the Walk to Work” is split into the four seasons. Ultimately, the time spent in hardship, enduring boredom, and the toxic sludge of a dreaded nine to five, serves to underscore that if we spend time Walking on The Beaches of Temporal Candy, it should be spent with someone or something we love.

McPherson is the author of Going Fly, One Poem, Saving Her, Cube Squared, My Life in Pictures, The Sun Has Forgotten Where I Live, The Cube People, (shortlisted for the 2011 ReLit Awards), Poems that swim from my brain like rats leaving a sinking ship, and Six Ways to Sunday (shortlisted for the 2008 ReLit Awards).

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