I must say, Neal, “the pleasant feelings indeed are mutual”, as you said.

I must say, Neal, “the pleasant feelings indeed are mutual”, as you said.

I must say, Neal, “the pleasant feelings indeed are mutual”, as you said.

Reading the title of book at the outset inspired me to go through the pages; randomly at first and then page by page. I must say, Neal, “the pleasant feelings indeed are mutual”, as you said.

Reading the title of book at the outset inspired me to go through the pages; randomly at first and then page by page.  I must say, Neal, “the pleasant feelings indeed are mutual”, as you said.

I loved your take on New Years’ Resolutions and the specific dates you remember as you made them.  Well, every year begins with a fresh enthusiasm and energy and all of us pull out our diaries, and bucket lists to make some noting on what we intend to do.  “New Years’ Day Brunch sharing my first draft tanka breaks the ice, our guests make resolutions to sharpen their pencils too”. Yes; I agree on your take on writing the resolutions, as well.  Alas! Only a few; the passionate and the dedicated ones make it through the end.  In contrast, your lines “Every day brings with it the promise of a new blossom, the prospect of progress and growing friendship between our 2 people” gave a very optimistic view of life!

Spiritualists say life is in tiny things which we need to cherish and be aware of.  In Simplicity, your first poem as the title of your Book gives a peek into the smallest and the nicest things which give you pleasure like – A Letter from an Old Friend, Flowers in Vase, Bird Chatter and when Avian Network Broadcasts only Good News, and your lines – “A street Poet tells me He Bleeds in Ink, is that why dark lines are visible in the Balearic Sea?” Mundane things but very well expressed! That’s a mark of any Poet; none can beat a Poet’s imagination.


Overripe persimmons, plums and pears in a bowl besides the brushes and paint, I laid out last week” I wonder if you wanted to paint further.  Was it so?  Just trying to guess on what you thought at that moment you wrote these lines or you have left it to the reader’s imagination.  Similarly, you have once again left for the reader’s imagination of what must have happened as you wrote In the Plaza – “before the concert begins rain showers and a sprinkle of twigs dropped by nesting crows”.  Umm…left me guessing!

Poets are very sensitive and many memories stay with them which they so skillfully pen down randomly just like you wrote on Your Sister’s confession of you hitting her, and in Be silent be still “Retreat rules are few, I pick up lentil soup in the communal kitchen and return with solitude”and your remembrance for your friends – “my old crowd was absent from our hangout I raised one finger – Black Jack, Water Back make it double”.  

Sweet childhood memories captured by you gave all the sweetness as in – “7 spoons fill a jelly jar on our mantle each one reminds us to stir sweetness into each day of the week”, and “The road to our home used to be a bumpy ride newly paved, the sign still says “slow down”, comes, lets watch the tide go out”  I too at times, feel like visiting all the homes I have stayed in during my childhood and growing-up years.  The homes recur in my dreams and the pleasant feelings the dreams have given me just cannot be expressed in words.  Thank you for taking me back to my childhood. 

Reminiscing childhood or probably thinking aloud as in your lines – “All marvel sea stars and jelly fish rise out of the ocean now floating above us bioluminescence” 

I being into writing for these many years too keep a book at my bedside and could very well relate with your lines – “On my bedstead I keep a pencil and pad up once to pee, the sun rises on my notes, sea turtles dream they can fly”.  Writing I believe is a play of words; we Poets play with words; and they can come to us any time. 


So beautifully through your words you have captured the stage of old age –  “The widow next door plays the Moonlight Sonata on a Spinet as Beethoven composed it – no self-pity or remorse”, “Mom had read the sleepy song poem to me at bed time, now her granddaughter recites it by heart at her Nana’s wake”, and “The oldest thing I own is an overcoat perhaps it’s time to downsize because of shrinkage”, “Her whole life was a game of hopscotch harder at 70 to hop from square to square without stepping on lines” and “Lights out our summer camp Counsellor tells us, goblins hide behind dark clouds, I have spent a lifetime looking”. 

Neal, probably you love autumn as you mention “Winter soon when days turn to nights suddenly I prefer autumn when afternoon skies are streaky and dusk drops slowly”.  Your lines have taken me to my childhood when I have experienced the same feeling as I rode on my bicycle during the evenings breathing in the air which came along with lot of freshness.  That’s exactly the time when winter gets over while autumn sets-in.  

One foot past the sign no fishing beyond this point, she plants her big butt, this woman casts her line and makes a statement” this was hilarious!

Wonderful philosophical lines – His after life, like his before-life filled with unknowns not to witness the births of his grandson and grandfather”,  “In the uncertain hour no longer night, but not yet day, between drop and chop shadows are sharp and intense between being and un-being”.  “Parachute lessons for my 65th birthday What was I thinking?  I put the bucket list book in the thrift shop pile”, “James Joyce tells us the past is in the present; we live with ghosts of our making; shades of the living and the head”, “Thorton Wilder’s prized drama is a reminder – realize life while we live it, who does? May be Poets! As in Our Town”, and “Reading Robert Frost now that my hair is white too; two roads that diverged now I see were worn the same; my teacher had it all wrong”  Your lines speak of the vast experiences of your life, indeed. 


People “Dogs on beach happy to see other dogs, at the airport how much I detest all those other people”. This line will resonate with every Reader; I am sure.

Your love for Poetry is so very evident in your lines – “Fog stood thick feasting on berries, my mood was elevated reading poetry in the cold afternoon through the opening door”, “My poetry group gathers at the park terrace rain blessed leaves transform the concrete surface into a Greek mosaic”, and “On the self-help shelf next to Dating for Dummies, Dating Old Photographs, I put it back in antiques and move on to poetry”. 

We all go through uncertain times where doubts become dominant.  I have to still come across a Poet who has so masterfully expressed doubts such as – “Her lab tests are in – Will the news be good or bad? Mare’s tail overhead, this blue sky is deceptive, it’s a sign of a storm front”.

As I read your lines on nature like these, it appeared to me as if I was watching paintings – “Early morning is a time of magic and street is silent after the light has come before the sun has risen”, “At the tip of a blade of grass a dew drop, I took out my sketch pad but it evaporates” 

What more do I say about LOVE???  “Their love notes always folded on half somonka he waited for the ink to dry but her letters arrived smudged” (women are impatient!), “She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, no one special on my mind, dull days and summer doldrums” 

The current scenario on Covid-19 gave the entire world a huge jolt.  Millions of people must have taken to meditation to regain their lost control over their minds.  Your lines like these have come like a breather. – “His first words; I am so very happy always, our Monk says, meditation is medicine for the mind”,


Meditation is sitting still but it gets difficult for people whose lives are based on activity.  So, after few minutes, there is a hurry in getting-up which you have so nicely expressed – “The hour is up but our Monk remains seated, he smiles, we smile in return; no one wants to leave first”. 

Your book is like a wonderful gift wrapped in Philosophy, Spirituality, Love and Nature, filled with your childhood and growing-up memories.  Reading your poems was like unwrapping this gift slowly and gradually leading me to a variety of surprises.  Each and every poem of yours was like a Sixer on the Cricket Field.  I must thank you Neale for taking the pains in bringing out your passion through this book.  And yes; I will urge the Readers to take this journey because this indeed is a pleasurable journey full of pleasant feelings.  All I wish for you is that your book travels itself to Readers with beautiful minds and makes a mark on its own to capture their hearts.  All the Best Neal; hope you are not going to stop at this and soon, we will get to read your next.  I wish all the very best to you for all your future endeavors.  Through this review, I hope I have been able to give justice to your poetry in the way you imagined and wrote.  I would like to hear from you on this.

Big, small, good, bad, ugly; howsoever, home indeed is the best place on this Earth for everyone.  Neale your lines “She leaves a lamp on when I go out for a night walk, it’s understood this is a place of peace, warm and restful inside” and “Added to the bliss of a sandalwood candle is its care taking, she knew how to trim a wick to make the light last longer” will stay with me as I sign off.

Shubhaangi Kundalkar

Author – Justaju-In Search of Life