Review: Lions Like Us by Hollie Hardy

By Nadia Bruce-Rawlings

LIONS LIKE US is filled with ethereal poetry by Ms. Hollie Hardy, whose previous collection How To Take A Bullet, And Other Survival Poems was published by Punk Hostage Press. A collection that flows through love and loss and the pandemic and the demonstrations of Black Lives Matter, it caught me and held me. Her use of imagery is impeccable. Her words bring images to mind that are haunting and lovely.
 
In “Desire” (page 19), we read:
 
Today you reappear
on my horizon
a misplaced mirage
 
All hands and eyes and breath
discovery of ears and toes
will come later
 
You are late to arrive
because suspense
is a kind of longing
 
The weight of a tongue
guarding its secrets
gliding along a body
 
I want to wake up
in the moonlight 
of your arms
 
With the smell of snow
singing in the distance
I want to climb inside

The warmth between us
and build a nest
 
I love this poem - brings me back to Colorado in the 1980s, a secret rendezvous I won’t share here, but Hollie has unwittingly captured it. She has a way of holding your emotions that will take you by surprise. 
 
Another beautiful poem that caught me off guard is on page 81, entitled “Sprezzatura.” It reads:
 
The breath bent / backward under / foot / a foot trail / entrails
trailing / like lost keys / like next time / like normal is something
we can agree on / missing
 
Our own personal / normal / ruptured like / overripe plums
the sidewalk a vulture / in wait / in this city / a sidewalk is a bed
without a home
 
We walked past bodies / in rumpled repose / looking for lost items
finding lost courage / we looked away / we did not do / enough
 
I could quote her poetry ad nauseam, but I’ll refrain in a minute…. one final stanza that really appealed to me was on page 85, the first stanza of “Where Shall We Begin:”
 
I’m thinking about change again / as the world bares / its teeth
and snarls / we cower and grumble / or march with balled fists
into the throat of the next war / already begun / as we look
the other way / watching lies on the news / hoarding toilet paper
for the end days

Ah that lovely start of the Pandemic. What an era. I love this poem. The last stanza asks: “Ocean says good poetry / is about asking the right questions / what I want to know is — Where shall we begin?”  I think Ms. Hardy knows just where to begin with the right questions and great poetry.

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