Go Because I Love You by Jared Harél
Diode Editions, 2018. 76 pp.
Reviewed by DM O’Connor

Occasionally, and this is a compliment, a book of poetry sends the reader spiralling into the metaphysical and forces one to ask; What is Poetry? What is Poetry for? There are as many answers as there are poets and poems. Jared Harél’s collection, Go Because I Love You, winner of Diode Editions Book Award, makes it clear this poet can answer both questions with clarity. Full of humor, insight, and foreboding, Harél elevates the quotidian into mellifluous wisdom. His tracking and exploration of the many-faced maturations of love takes various forms, from Beat-like howls to the open road, 

I hitchhiked to Boulder

on a hunch and three beers.

Each road I took, I took

for granted. Each town a postcard

I never sent.       


                                                               “My Years in Tacoma, Without Exaggeration”

to a more sobering narration from the point of view of father, husband, provider, yet lovable flake, 

Go so you can come back

says my wife, meaning go but don’t linger

in frozen foods, or forget

where you parked, or chat up the cashier.

Go certainly, because something

needs getting while the baby takes a nap, 

                                                                             “Go So You Can Come Back”

to the mournful regrets of an American citizen, trying to do what is best for country and family as middle-age begins to dawn on the personal horizon. In “Upon Hearing That Someone Has Forgotten Their Laptop, iPhone, Keys, Wallet, and Dog Leash at Airport Security,” the speaker, triggered by a mundane airport announcement, turns a personal memory into an image-stream concluding with a call for universal empathy:

Haven’t we all been there—not all there—before:

hustling to keep up, make

connections, leaving so many

essentials behind.

Go Because I Love You finds strength in simplicity. It is the simple things that matter. Playing with a niece, worried a fan might lop her head off. Strapping a child into a baby-seat, while an uncle dies of cancer. Listening to Leonard Cohen’s, You Want It Darker the day after the election. Singing, If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands while the world crumbles. Harél’s book is not fireworks and swords clashing. In these beautiful meditations, the heroes are parents, teachers, mothers and sons, who get through the day glimpsing truth, overcoming personal hypocrisies, and putting others first.

The shortest, perhaps most beautiful poem is “First Answer:”

My daughter wants to know

when I became 

a grown-up. I tell her

I became one

the day you were born.  

When I was a child, my father used to write tiny couplets on my brown lunch bag before going off to work. At lunch, I cherished his words more than any sandwich or apple. I’d feel his care and love for a split second in the middle of the swirling school day. My father would never claim to have written a poem in his life. Yet, he knew what poetry was and was for: framing the daily in love. A note to a child that reminds them, I’m here. You’re there. But we are together. The poems in Go Because I Love You are like those little notes of truth, full of observation and love. They let you know you’re not alone. We are all passing time this time together and sharing love makes it easier, more fun, frightening, yet full. Harél’s readers are as lucky as well-loved children.

DAVID MORGAN O'CONNOR is from a small Canadian village on Lake Huron. After many nomadic years, he's based in Albuquerque, where stories and poems progress daily. His writing has appeared in more than 50 print or online publications. He reviews, interviews and blogs monthly.