Love Poems for Cannibals

Love Poems for Cannibals

by Raymond Keen


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As the reader moves through my volume of poetry, Love Poems for Cannibals, he/she will find poems of war (in this case Vietnam), poems dealing with current spiritual issues (Christianity, Buddhism, spiritual doubt and the soaring-singing human spirit), dysfunctional family relationships and feelings, portraits of great figures in contemporary human history presented with candor and wit, poems that rage against the omnipresence of human hypocrisy and poems that present American/Western civilization under the glaring light of truth - with the single redemptive quality that this truth sings in these poems.

A volume of contemporary poetry, Love Poems for Cannibals expresses the thoughts, feelings, quandaries and wonder of an American poet very much alive to the darkness and light of the 21st century.

Poet Raymond Keen writes, "I was born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado. Back in my childhood of the 40's and my adolescence during the 50's, I believed in human greatness and human virtue. I had respect for authority, and believed that life was fundamentally fair and could be understood as a rational narrative. I believed that a human being could, through words, come close to expressing the truth, even if only a momentary fragment of this truth. I now realize that I may have been overly optimistic. Human verbal communication characteristically obscures the truth, as it covers the truth with the repetitive cliché. My poetry attempts to make that insight present, palpable, and undeniable. Although I sometimes may succeed in getting through or beyond the cliché, I make no claims on truth."

In Love Poems for Cannibals, truth and beauty, body and spirit, mind and matter, pain and pleasure admix in the following eight sections:

• The Vietnam War is not dinky dau. (1967-1968)
• Est Deus in Nobis. (1969-2012)
• Mother Is On Vacation. (1974-2004)
• mouth-honour (1973-2003)
• Is There Mucus in Paradise? (1973-2010)
• Homo Homini Lupus Est. (1976-2009)
• Final Entropy (1974-2012)
• Prose Coda (2001-2012)

Making reference to current cultural, political and social events, Raymond Keen's poems can be darkly provocative, bitingly witty and serenely contemplative. Raymond writes, "I want readers to be stirred with questions about what it means to be a human being. I don't provide answers, but I try to make clear what the stakes are. The stakes for human beings in the 21st century are very high."

Powerful, memorable, wise, and at times infuriating, his collection of poetry is the result of an accumulation of language gems and cultural/literary insights acquired over many years, which shed light on the time in which we are now living.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781470182687
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 02/05/2013
Pages: 166
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.35(d)

About the Author

Raymond is the author of "Love Poems for Cannibals," which was published in February 2013. He is also the author of a drama, "The Private and Public Life of King Able," which was published in January 2016. Raymond's poetry has been published in 32 literary journals.

Raymond Keen was educated at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Oklahoma. He spent three years as a Navy clinical psychologist with a year in Vietnam (July 1967 - July 1968). Since that time he has worked as a school psychologist and licensed mental health counselor in the USA and overseas, until his retirement in 2006. He is a credentialed school psychologist in the states of California and Washington, and a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Washington. Raymond lives with his wife Kemme in Sahuarita, AZ. They have two grown children, Anne-Elise and Michael.

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Love Poems for Cannibals 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
cartawick More than 1 year ago
A wide range of diverse poetry with surprising light and dark elements fused together. A deliciously dangerous collection that includes historical figures, celebrities, war, and other subjects. I just love a book that you can pull down from the library shelf to read time and time again, never getting bored - this is one of those.... who says 'Poetry is a thing of the past.... a dying Genre. With such unforgettable prose, it leaves you wanting more. You get it all; humor and frightful darkness taking your thoughts deep into an enjoyable twisted journey of surrealism. A moving echo through decades of immersed rawness and highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
 This volume of poetry, composed over many decades, is brilliant, dark, and deeply subversive.  As the author intends, these poems cut through the tumult of the twentieth century and leave our comfortable clichés in tatters.  Yet some are hilarious, like Freud in the dental chair, and Albert Einstein in a corporate-style slide show.  I also loved the travelling Christ with no street address.   Raymond Keen is a well respected poet whose work has appeared in many journals.  I hope his next poem will come to grips with an enigma that transcends cliché:  every story has a happy ending.  When the world brings down its full weight of injury and degradation, that is the moment of transcendence.   I recommend this thoughtful poetry highly and give it five stars.
StarGazer2 More than 1 year ago
Edgar Allan Poe is the author that came to mind when I began reading Raymond Keen’s Love Poems for Cannibals. These poems are very cerebral. They really, I mean REALLY, make you sit back and think. My personal favorite is ‘I Love the Traveling Christ’. So much meaning in so little words. Amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading Raymond Keen's book of poetry is one of the occasions when the words take the reader on a ride to another time and place, where one becomes captivated by the rich surroundings provided by the poet. The poems are thoughtful yet visceral with the imagery that elicits an emotional attachment from the reader. Having experienced Viet Nam firsthand during that conflict, I was moved by the close relationship between our mutual recollections of our personal experiences. Love Poems for Cannibals brings the reader into the madness and brutality of war, and the resultant casualties of those who experienced it. As a poet and writer, I have great respect for Raymond Keen's work. His book was inspirational for me, as a combat veteran and a poet. The words of this poet will endure. Grant Handgis Poet/Author
RobertSheppard More than 1 year ago
Raymond Keen is an exceptional contemporary American poet whose work is an Odyssey through the lightness and dark, passion, pain and self-contradictions of our modern world and life. Llike Odysseus, another returned Veteran from a dubious war, he returns to cleanse and redeem the tarnished world left behind and refound.-------Robert Sheppard, Author of Spiritus Mundi
RMFenwick More than 1 year ago
"Love Poems for Cannibals" is a brilliant collection. In between reams of irony and a sense of futility, Raymond Keen announces the answers: truth and love. He derides the creators of The Vietnam War (in which he participated), describes the worthy-though-fragile quest for religion, and questions a society that seems bent on stroking its own ego. Keen points directly at our institutional ironies, and puts them in their place, poetically. Mr. Keen uses setting to create ironic humor: we find Freud in a dentist's chair being praised for his theories and admonished for smoking cigars; a psychology professor teaches Transactional Analysis using Christ's last moments on the cross ("When Jesus said / `it is finished' / he was again / in the adult ego state); and when King Able boasts about his nation's scientific achievements he devolves into bragging that "...the laser beam and H-bomb / have given us complete control over our looks like a good season for humanity!" And yet, amid the edginess we find his piece, "Soul Star," where Keen poses the right question and the perfect answer: "Why would I / not sing to you / in tears of / Vermillion fire?" To which he concludes victoriously: "You cry out," Keen concludes, "in me." I recommend this collection to anyone tired of flowers and teenage angst. Some have said the collection is disturbing at times, but that they can't put it down. I say it's validity is unquestionable. "Love Poems for Cannibals" forces us to note the grass needs weeding. When this poet visits New York and looks out his window, he doesn't waste our time describing The Empire State Building's majesty; no, he forces us to look down, where "The derelicts near our hotel / are, I swear, drinking something / from cans of motor oil, / drinking it as if it were water..." That, my friends, is where the truth lies.
MarkusBisk More than 1 year ago
Initially I was attracted to Raymond Keen's book of poems simply by the rawness of its title, Love Poems for Cannibals. Now I'm reading these poems and enjoy their rawness. The title kept its promise to reflect the rawness of life in the 1967 era of war, not unlike the continued eras of U.S. wars ever since then. These poems are organized by theme within certain time periods. The themes include love, war, power, spirituality, and politics. Keen is the sort of poem who writes more than just about his own person but also creates other types of characters to convey a story or situation. The first poem sings out a "Dream Frag of Robert Strange McNamara" like a wet-dream. It mixes the wishes of a couple of drafted grunts getting some blowback on McNamara. "We wasted the ...." It's a wish to mess up Secretary of Defense McNamara. "Our OX took sloppy seconds." McNamara was a Whiz-kid businessman in the 1960s and, as a self-aggrandizer, became the wind-up automaton, eager to please the barons of wealth, eager to assure the profits of defense contractors, and eager to rub the heads of state by escalating the Vietnam War. By the time McNamara died in 2009, he admitted that the justifications for the war were fraudulent. Deeper into this collection, the theme and the language turns to a silky fabric as the context changes. Eurydice is a love poem, but the love is not particularly the most traditional. Likewise the language is not part of any conformity, "like honey dripping into the sea." This is poetry, the grinding and rubbing of experience in the world's twists and turns. Another poem, Soul Star, rings like a bell in smooth, gentle love in contrast to the language and the rawness of the poems bathed in the themes of war. This book of poetry also includes a collection of prose poems with the unique perspective and voice as we find in the poems. This book is a treasure chest of language, themes, sights, feelings, raw existence, and much more.
johnpursch More than 1 year ago
Raymond Keen is an author of rare courage and honesty. His voice is powerful, lucid, and clear, rendering raw experience in a direct, unflinching manner. He immerses us in deep and difficult subjects with easy transparency and consummate mastery. Especially fascinating and amusing are his insightful takes on an all-star cast of famous figures, from Sigmund Freud to Albert Einstein to Pete Rose, culminating in the astonishing Oprah-Harpo connection. It’s a unique thrill to have Ray’s wonderful words crawling through my writhing brain, swarming my eyes wide open. Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wondered why the title, until I read the book. The author is a gifted poet in a way that I am not familiar, but in an odd way, now think is a direction that poetry should attempt. Poetry is usually always pretty in pink, but Keen's poetry is a testament to those who are thinkers, those who ponder, those who are contemplative. His work is darkness and the light. You'll get a lot more than you expected, because it could not have been foreseen!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If these are “love poems for cannibals,” then I am a cannibal. Seldom have I read in a single book of poetry such richness and diversity of thought. These poems range from the Vietnam War to our very deepest spiritual and existential concerns, from Osama bin Laden in a brilliant rant against the media and Oprah Winfrey and American capitalism, to poems about Charles Manson, Yasir Arafat and even Sigmund Freud (at the dentist – LOL). The surprises never end, as Raymond Keen cuts his way deep into the meaning, or lack of meaning, in those things that help us survive, even as they muddy the clarity of our existence. These poems ring with an astonishing clarity. With poem titles like “Irony Is The Cross Upon Which Meaning Is Crucified,” we are shown again and again that here is a deep-thinking poet with a magic touch for saying things that are breathtakingly original. The reader is in for some shocks, because Raymond Keen never fails to write a poem about what you would least expect: Two of the poems (“Video Confession On Vacation In New York City” and “Holiday Madness, 1976”) are written in the first person by “characters” who are obviously delusional and who also happen to be describing murders they have just committed. What is extraordinary in these 70 poems is the humor that this poet finds in the darkest situations. There are examples of this too numerous to mention. And with all of this, we have two breathtaking love poems: Buy this book and check out “Soul Star” and “Eurydice.” You won’t regret it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shock-and-Awe Poetry from a Poet Who Takes No Prisoners This is a book of poetry full of dark surprises, guaranteed to shock as well as entertain. There are eight sections in this amazing collection of poetry, and even the section titles shock and surprise. For example, the 5th section is titled “Is There Mucus in Paradise?” The book is filled with lines of poetry that seem absurd, but on deeper reflection pose deep questions. Raymond Keen is the master of deep yet highly irreverent questions, which cause one to gasp with laughter. I think that some of these poems are attempting to take on the entire murderous inheritance of the Western tradition. One poem, in particular, is stunningly biting and deadly in its diagnosis of the very civilization in which we live: “A Theory of the Origin of Western Civilization.” With references to films (“200l: A Space Odyssey” and the character “Leatherface” in “The Chainsaw Massacre”), combined with descriptions of murder styles from Roman times, through the Christian inquisition, to Nazi modes of hanging Jews on meat hooks, we have a nightmare vision of a gifted poet, who still manages to bring a bitter humor to his deadly vision. Hard to believe, therefore, that this fine poet can write of hope and redemption: His 2nd section is titled “Est Deus in Nobis” (Latin for “God is in us.”) Here is the last stanza of his poem, “We Are The Broken Hearts That Sing”: If truth exists independent of our saying, then answers to all questions are present before the asking. Nihilominus, an answer without words is not yet an answer. A song without words is not yet a song. The hopes we have are given birth through their singing. If truth exists without our saying, nihilominus, we are the broken harps that sing. We are the broken harps that sing. Then there are the poems about the Vietnam War, in the opening section of the book: “The Vietnam War is not dinky dau.” His brief biography inside the book explains that Raymond Keen served as a Navy clinical psychologist with the 1st Marine Division from July 1967 to July 1968. I will leave it to the reader to find out for him/herself more about this profound and brilliant collection of poetry by a new and important poet in our midst. The reader will not be disappointed, but the reader will be surprised – on every page.