The Writing's on the Wall...

Days of Fine Gray Ash 

 Will Warm Your Heart 



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REVIEWS OF "Days of Fine Gray Ash"

"There are some things, cotton candy, roasted peanuts, cloudy days with storm clouds brewing, that quite naturally make us want to curl up in a favorite chair, wrapped in a favorite quilt, with a good book in our hands. If that book is DAYS OF FINE GRAY ASH the day will have been successfully navigated and you will have arrived at a wonderful point of exploration.-- Nikki Giovanni, Poet

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the muse apprentice guild
the new canon of the 21st century
fall / winter: 2003 / 2004

A Review of Days of Fine Gray Ash (Monica E. Smith, Author)

This is a book of poems all about the subject love, and a very good one at that. Ms. Smith writes with a voice endearing to the ear that is silent, to the hands that grip the cold steel of a hospital bed, anc the reader standing alone on a book store aisle. Nikki Giovanni calls this book, "A wonderful point of exploration." Those are accurate words, as none of us will ever swim the entire length of the tossing and turning river of love. The finest poem in this very exquisite collection is entitled, "Revelation". Here is an excerpt:

In the stillness of a winter night
As the snow began to fall,
I heard him through a distant light,
To me he faintly called

I answered, though I did not see
The one whose voice I heard.
I knew when he spoke to me
And bade me do not fear

These words flow right across the road in a storm that will either make you pull over to the side or risk a love you haven't experienced before.

* * * * * * * * * * March 2002 Book Review: Days of Fine Gray Ash by Monica E. Smith
Days of Fine Gray Ash

Monica E. Smith

Includes Prior Publications, Dedication, Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, Words of Love, Introduction, 59 pages of poetry, and a Biography of the author, and a back-cover commentary by Nikki Giovanni.

Self-Published through; perfect-bound, soft cover, 81 pages, plus inside front and back covers.

ISBN 9-31413-41-x; Library of Congress Control No. 2002100159, <(c) 2002

Review by Ursula T. Gibson

Monica E. Smith writes in her Biography "I write what I like to call 'accessible' poetry and feel that poetry need not be written in a complicated language only a select few can comprehend." This book is full of comprehensible, accessible poetry, arranged in themes of Love's Memories, Love of Family, Friendship, Romance, God's Love, Love's Pain, Love's Healing Power, and Love's Gift, each containing 4-8 poems. The bonus of quotations from English literature of Words of Love is interesting, too.

I like accessible poetry. There is nothing simple about a poem like this, but I feel it immediately:

I Thought You Long Dead

I thought you long dead
Until I heard your laughter
Among our voices
As we remembered when

I thought you no longer here
Until I saw you
In my mind's eye

I thought you could no longer touch me
Until your image
Warmed my heart

I thought once more
And felt the life still within you
The unmistakable nearness of your spirit
Your gentle reminder
You would always be with me

(page 24)

Her words are chosen with obvious care to capture condensed feelings for us. She uses both free verse and formal structure (rhyme, rhythm, poetic devices) to guide us to discovery of what we may not have discerned before.

Two Hearts
[omitting a long quotation from Paul Theroux' "D is for Death" provided by the author]

Two hearts lay on marriage bed
entwined as braided thread.
The seed now sown in joyful union
seals the vow of two now wed.

Two hearts embrace in autumn's haze.
The passion still ablaze.
Each to the other clinging, pondering
life's fast-waning days.

Two hearts promise as before,
undying love forevermore.
Though Death its summons must impart
Two hearts in love yet soar.

(page 50)

Although I do find cliches in some of the poetry in this book, I am not particularly troubled by it, because most of the poems achieve what they set out to do to engage me.

In addition to the quality of the poetry it contains, the reasonable cost of this nicely-designed book makes it accessible as well.

Ursula T. Gibson (, Poetry Editor, Poetic Voices.)




We have all known "days of fine gray ash"--moments when only the warm, lingering memories of love and friendship remain. But how to regain that love, once lost? How to rid ourselves of the pain and loneliness? Within these pages lies the priceless gift awaiting us if we would simply reach out and give of ourselves. It remains only for us to stoke the fire, free the hope that lies smoldering in its embers and love again.

--Monica E. Smith

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