‘A Curmudgeon Is Born’ by Heath Brougher: A Review

July 19, 2016 Book Reviews



Scott Thomas Outlar


Step one: Put Tool’s album Lateralus on your preferred audio device. Hit play.

Step two: Meditate on the sacred geometrical patterns upon which all creation is formed. Visualize the golden ratio in the back of your mind. Start counting the beats of music in rhythm with the Fibonacci sequence.

Step three: Pick up your copy of Heath Brougher’s A Curmudgeon Is Born and dive in … or, better yet, start spiraling out …


It is immediately apparent that Brougher believes in the search for Absolute Truth above all else in life. No half measures will suffice. No little white lies will be consumed to help make existence more palatable or easily digestible. Being steadfast in this regard, Brougher has not always found it easy to assimilate amongst a society that collectively doesn’t have a clue when it comes to such pure pursuits, nor much of a desire to care. In the opening salvo of his chapbook, a poem titled “Oil and Water,” Brougher focuses on where the mixture went awry:


I haven’t been found

of a peaceful mind

in so long if ever truly



His discomfort originates from:


a society of people

who don’t want to

explore their minds


The core of this collection’s espoused ideology is revealed with one particular line in the poem “Curriculums,” and this philosophy is then emphasized repeatedly throughout in one way or another. Brougher writes:


for the Truth lives within the Spiral.


The message seems to be that once one learns how to stop cycling around in loops during their life – endlessly caught up in the illusion of eternal recurrence – then evolution and progression can begin in earnest. Is this an evolution of one’s own inner consciousness? Does it take place in the outer world of space and time? Or are the two concepts a package deal?

The standout poem, to me, appears early on in the collection. It is a straightforward piece stated in simple enough terms, yet it says so much about human perception, or, in this case, human “Misperception”:


That oak tree

is not really an oak tree.


That oak tree

is only an oak tree

because you call it an oak tree.


Maybe you should stop lying to yourself.



Seek truth! Brougher screams with this last line. Seek what is hidden behind the veil of illusions. The oak tree could be replaced with just about any idea in this decadent, zombie culture of mass consumption. That money is only money because you believe it is money. That propaganda spewed on corporate “news” is only as real as the agenda it is spun with. Democracy is only as legitimate as the institution which ultimately counts the votes decides it to be. The biggest can of worms to pop open would be when applying such a theory to God. Whose perception is real? Or, more importantly, whose perception is armed with the largest guns?


Next, Brougher expresses a sense of existential nihilism in “The Reality of Defeatism” when he utters this dire warning:


soon enough all of us will be aware of defeat.


There is oftentimes a subtle twist in Brougher’s final lines. A nail being hammered into the coffin as it were. These sharp bites at the end help keep the reader’s attention focused and eager to reach the next revelation.

There are coined terms, experimental line breaks, repeating rhythmic sequences, and daring chances taken in this collection, yet there remains throughout a musicality of language which is both unique and at the same time universal. If you “Keep a Peeled Eye” you will discover the intricacies of the dance:


You must see the tragedy

atwirl and atwirl and a twirl


the cyclical moon revolves like a sober silver coin


             a loop in a loop of loops which will leave you aloof

        the Truth

               is nowhere

in sight.


This review offers only a glimpse of what Brougher has put together in his debut chapbook. The poems are carefully placed in order to create a smooth ride as far as the flow of themes is concerned (the ideas expressed, however, will leave the reader jarred at times – which, I presume, is the author’s intention). Awaken, humanity! Take back the reins of your consciousness. There is more to this world, to this universe, to this cosmos, to this life than that which has been programmed into us by those who seek to herd humanity straight off a cliff. Counter such socially engineered schemes by seeking upward instead. Seek inward to your source. Seek the stars. Seek synchronicity. Seek the spiral!


I’ll conclude by presenting the final stanza of lines from Brougher’s closing poem, “Wooden Wires”:


I turn into modern.

I turn into a modem.

I turn into moths of math.

I turn into trigonometry.

I turn into Truth.







Heath Brougher

Heath Brougher is the poetry editor of Five 2 One Magazine. He recently published his first chapbook titled A Curmudgeon Is Born (Yellow Chair Press, 2016). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Chiron Review, Of/with, Mad Swirl, Crack the Spine, SLAB, eFiction India, and elsewhere.



Scott Thomas Outlar

Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, and books can be found. He is a member of The Southern Collective Experience. He serves as an editor for The Blue Mountain Review, Walking Is Still Honest Press, and The Peregrine Muse.


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