OSTRACA Paperback – May 11, 2023 by Johnny Payne (Author)

OSTRACA Paperback – May 11, 2023  by Johnny Payne (Author)

OSTRACA Paperback – May 11, 2023 by Johnny Payne (Author)

The imagery in the poem is both evocative and emotionally charged. The mention of

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OSTRACA Paperback – May 11, 2023  by Johnny Payne (Author)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Cyberwit.net (May 11, 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 80 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 8119228049
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-8119228041
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 3.99 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Best Sellers Rank: #1,935,310 in Books 

Ostraca are flakes of limestone that were used in ancient Egypt as

“notepads” for private letters, laundry lists, records of purchases, and

copies of literary works.

All poems in the collection ‘OSTRACA ‘ are of a very distinguished quality. The chief characteristic of these poems is extreme simplicity of style united with profound emotion. The poems reveal impressive imagination, blended with strange and beautiful word-pictures. These poems will appeal to all readers because of their philosophical and mystical appeal. The poems show a very attractive and wide variety. The diction of these poems has almost always musical quality.

No doubt, the poet reveals a capacity for strong and genuine emotion. The following lines explain it:

Far above a cloud mass, caramel-black

and off-white, sleet-clot clusters

in a clime where it seldom rains.

I’ve climbed high with two yorkies

to watch the desert get swept with needles

of water, forming hash-puddles in brown earth. (Windstorm p. 35)

The above lines are impactful piece of poetry that excels in creating vivid imagery and evoking emotions. The use of descriptive language, such as "caramel-black" and "off-white" to depict the colors of the cloud mass, is evocative and allows the reader to visualize the scene with clarity.

The words"sleet-clot clusters" is both unique and intriguing, providing a fresh perspective on the cloud formations above. It adds an element of mystery and fascination to the setting.

The inclusion of "two yorkies" adds a personal touch to the narrative, suggesting that the speaker is experiencing this breathtaking view in the company of their beloved pets. This connection enhances the emotional aspect of the passage.

The metaphorical phrase "watch the desert get swept with needles of water" is a highlight of the passage. It beautifully captures the sensation of rain showering down from above, emphasizing the contrast between the arid desert landscape and the rare occurrence of rainfall.

The concluding line, "forming hash-puddles in brown earth," continues the metaphor, portraying the raindrops as unique and irregular patterns on the dry ground. The choice of words in this line creates a sense of artistic imagery.

In terms of improvements, it would be beneficial to maintain a consistent meter or rhythm throughout the poem. Poetry often relies on structured patterns to enhance its musicality. Additionally, expanding the length of the poem could allow for more depth and exploration of the scene, further engaging the reader's senses.

Overall, the poem effectively transports the reader into a captivating moment above the clouds, combining creative descriptions and emotional connections. With a bit of fine-tuning, it has the potential to become an even more powerful and resonant piece of poetry.


The merit of the poem justifies the quality of language in the book OSTRACA.. This reflects in ‘Double Wedding’:

Two husbands within a year’s space

her sixteen, then seventeen, with child,

guessing the father by looking at its face.


Stars hang low in a rare, far place

she on her back in a corn-chocked field

two husbands within a year’s space.


The first whisked her to a justice of the peace

no warning, no lipstick, just papers filed

guessing the father by looking at its face. (Double Wedding p. 45)

This poem explores the complex and somewhat tumultuous life of a young woman who has had two husbands within a year's time. The repetition of the line "two husbands within a year’s space" at the beginning and end of each tercet emphasizes the theme and adds a sense of rhythm to the poem. The phrase "guessing the father by looking at its face" is also repeated throughout the poem, underscoring the uncertainty and paternity issues surrounding the child.

The imagery in the poem is both evocative and emotionally charged. The mention of "Stars hang low in a rare, far place" and "on her back in a corn-chocked field" paints a vivid picture of the setting, while also hinting at the isolated and challenging circumstances the woman finds herself in.

The use of "no warning, no lipstick, just papers filed" and "good name defiled" provides glimpses into the abrupt and possibly unpleasant nature of the relationships and their consequences on the woman's reputation.

As the poem progresses, it reveals how quickly the second husband comes into her life, taking her to Tennessee and marrying her. The phrase "At least she wore lace" could symbolize a glimmer of hope or beauty in an otherwise chaotic situation.

Overall, the villanelle form effectively enhances the theme of repetition and emotional intensity, making it a compelling and engaging piece of poetry. The poem delves into the complexities of relationships, choices, and the impact they can have on a person's life.

                                                                                                                                                                           --Ruchi Agarwal

Johnny Payne's work has appeared in Neon Door, Fast Flesh, Decadent Review, Verdad Magazine, Gasher Journal, Sparks of Calliope, Society for Classical Poets, The Chained Muse, Collidescope, Peregrine Journal, The New Lyre, Pulsebeat, Wine Cellar Press, and Soundings East. His most recent published novels are THE HARD SIDE OF THE RIVER and CONFESSIONS OF A GENTLEMAN KILLER, which won the IBPA Gold Medal for Horror in 2021. His books of poetry VASSAL and HEAVEN OF ASHES were published by Mouthfeel Press. He has directed his plays TOUCHSTONE, DEATH BY ZEPHYR and CANNIBALS for Slingshot Players, Los Angeles.

My rating system:
5 stars - Absolutely loved it! I