Recently, I was given a copy of Cold Blue Steel, a collection of poems by Sarah Cortez that chronicles life as a street cop in Houston, Texas. This honest account is powerful. It’s full of fear, pride, humor, and truth. And its truthfulness provides for the reader a fly-on-the-wall position, one that is unbiased and vulnerable to everything this book throws at them. What it doesn’t sacrifice for the sake of content is its role as a book of poetry; Cold Blue Steel houses beautiful poems written by a talented poet.
The opening stanza of the first poem in the book, “After the Swearing-In,” sits you down firmly in a chair, points a finger at you, and tells you exactly what you’re in for: not only an account of police life in Houston, but an account of a woman who wears the badge. And these poems deliver exactly that—the reader can tell that Cortez was in the force without reading any bios. They can tell this wasn’t researched, nor was this a few-day attempt to try it out. This was a lived experience. That alone holds power.
In the poem “Phil Says,” the titular Vietnam veteran tells the speaker, “Some things I don’t / want to remember.” Those lines echoed in my head even after I moved on to other pieces in the collection. And the stanza break that follows those lines infers that the speaker relates. The hardships and rawness that we experience through each poem makes those lines that much more understandable.
Some of my favorite pieces besides the two I’ve mentioned are: “Miracle,” “Investigator’s Prayer,” “Headquarters,” “Poem for A Dying Officer,” “Tuesday AM,” “Dog Remembers Night,” and “Prayer of an Arson Investigator.”
I’m so glad I was shown this book. It’s not one I would have picked off a shelf but Cold Blue Steel provides perspective without being preachy, given the combative state of current society. This is good poetry, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys poems or the subject matter. Sarah Cortez’s work speaks for itself, and her acclamations and achievements in poetry shine through each piece.
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Happy Friday the 13th, and welcome to the first post of my brand-new blog, Nothing Peak! This blog will be a place for me to share my thoughts in the form of reviews, post writing updates, promote events, and write about anything to do with poetry, horror, writing in general, and whatever else comes to mind. I’m excited to be writing more regularly, to not only keep the ideas flowing but also to remain consistent with my activity here on the site as well as on my social channels. I’ll be honest, I’ve been a bit neglectful of Haunt and the beams supporting it, but I’m happy to state that some exciting things are coming up--one being my first reading to promote the book! Check out the flyer below.
You can look forward to Nothing Peak blog entries once every 2 weeks; the next post will be a poetry book review, which I can’t wait to share with all of you when the time comes.
For now, I’ll leave you with a question, which I’ll try to do at the end of every post: What are some of your favorite blogs that you regularly follow? Let me know in the comments!