Review of “Pillow Thoughts” by Courtney Peppernell

Pillow Thoughts, a book of poetry about love in all its stages by Courtney Peppernell, made me feel empty — probably not in the way one might imagine though.

Let me clarify, that I did enjoy it. It was grandiose and unabashedly gooey. I didn’t think anyone could be so dramatic about love. For example, this wonderful poem:

Of all the maps in the world, the only one I will follow is the map to your heart.

It’s cheesy. But it made me want to write love poetry, and I wouldn’t say that romance poetry is my cup of tea. I asked my fiancée, and she affirmed that I am very much a pragmatist when it comes to love.

That’s why, faced with Peppernell’s outpouring of promises and assurances, I felt inadequate. Is my love not deep? Is it not full, because I wouldn’t make such promises? I hope to explore this in my own writing.

Another short poem that I adored was:

But the world is exhausted, and the only wealth we have left is love.

I want to feel this way. So I’m going to endeavor to write more love poetry. Here’s to being inspired!

As a sidenote, this book of poetry and prose felt more like a big group hug than literary poetry. I had to alter my expectations when reading the book. At times, I felt like I was getting to the essence of the author, but other times it seemed she was spouting saccharine prose to boost the reader’s self-esteem. I didn’t need to do a deep reading of the poems to really understand their meaning. That doesn’t make it bad, just a different kind of poetry than I was expecting. I like it when a poem makes me think, when the words sink into my brain and stain the wrinkles. This book does not do that.

Poem #782 – logic is not kind

you are right
but you are not right
the best way
to grow this tree
is the right soil,
the right sun,
the right rain.
but it will still grow
with another soil,
another sun,
another rain.

your tree grows twenty feet tall
so does mine
your tree is an emerald of the forest
mine is titanite in the Sahara
your tree is home to squirrels and birds
mine is a small oasis in the desert
your tree is not better than mine
after all is said and done

Poem #781b – the three me’s

the normal one
you see her the most
she’s got her shit together
she goes to work every day
she invests
she smiles when she should
she impresses your mom
she thinks the right thing
she says the right thing
she does the right thing

the depressed one
you hear of her occasionally
she sleeps right after work
she stares at her phone for hours
she cries
she doesn’t even feel like trying
she refuses your invitations
she can’t clean
she can’t survive without help
she hangs on for the other two

the manic one
you think you like this one
she laughs really loud
she is bigger than any room
she lives
she teeters on the edge
she gets on your nerves
she pushes buttons
she thinks the big thing
she says the wrong thing
she flirts with disappearing

Poem #781a – appraisal

my value is not derived
from the small nose or small ears
that I got from my mom
or from the mostly straight teeth
that I got from my dad
or from the thin arms and waist
that I worked for myself

my value is derived
from the words I put together here
and from the perspective I bring
and from the mere fact of my existence