Synopses & Reviews
D.F. Brown's Ghost of a Person Passing in Front of the Flag traces a soldier's deployment in and return from Vietnam as he sifts through the horror "for some peace with honor." In these dreamlike, never fragile poems, the narrator's Ozarks childhood merges with the "triple canopy" of Binh Dinh, both places equally combustive by the delirium of memory--"a swarm smeared across the page."
Ghost is as much about the senselessness of war as the co-option of language in a country "sick with flags." Brown's world is built from words both ethereal and barbed, gleaming as gunmetal or a freshly-washed '59 Ford coupe. As "torn and bloodied boys" are "johnwayned," the poet exposes the false metaphors that further entrench deceptions: "Imagine," he writes, "all the red it takes to make this true."
The barbarity of the American War in Vietnam never fades, but beauty cannot help but persist --"roses through chain link." Wry observation rubs against wonder, and while this never exonerates us, Brown's artistry shines a light more powerful, we hope, than our individual and collective echoes of pain. It is the poet's job to remind us of the sanctity of language, that "words silhouette what we cannot keep." With Ghost, Brown leaves an indelible mark.