Absent Nightmare Zinnias – Book Review

“Never need polishing, shiny and bright,
Nature’s own fireworks, floral delight.”

Title – Absent Nightmare Zinnias

Author – Linda Ann Nickerson

Genre – Poetry


The long weekend offered plenty of reading time. With the excess of prose turning a tad overwhelming after a while (I was reading a work of historical fiction), I decided to sneak in a bit of poetry. Some online browsing led me to an article on “acrostic poetry”, which I found quite intriguing. Acrostic poetry relies on a key word that is written as a vertical column, and every letter becomes the initials for opening each line of the poem. “Rhymed Acrostics” is a rarer and trickier form of acrostic poetry that follows the same vertical methodology, with the addition of meter and rhyme. Rhymed acrostics are easier to read due to the flow offered by the rhymes, but they are more challenging to construct. Without an inkling of what to search for in this particular genre of literature, I casually continued browsing, and a little further digging led me to this wonderful book, that I completed in a day.

Absent Nightmare Zinnias begins with a dedication to wordsmiths, bibliophiles, writers and word lovers – and the poet’s way with words is surely a treat for all the people mentioned above. The theme of the book is the English alphabet – each poem is derived from one letter, thereby moving from A to Z. Thus, the three words of the title have a poem each to themselves. The topics covered are diverse – food, career, weather, gadgets, emotions, flowers, health issues – and the tone ranges from serious to satire and everything in between.

A glimpse into some of the poems:

Blessed bounty boasts to greet –
Aromatic oven treat.
Kneaded, rolled and rising right,
Epicurean delight.
Regularly, I forgo,
Yet today, I can’t say, “No.”
It irritates me to no end-
No sleep arrives. No dreams descend.
Stop snoring, sonorific one
Or soporific nights are done.
My temper tromps on its last nerve,
Now nudging, as he does deserve.
I cannot rouse the ratchet jaw.
And so I toss and hem and haw.
Random thoughts may take a toll,
All attention to control.
Never underestimate the fee-
Dear distractions, nth degree.
Oh, my goodness, lookie here!
My resolve did disappear.
I particularly liked “Eavesdropper”, “Gumption”, “Packrat”, “Tablet”, “Yikes”, but the entire collection is memorable. From the simplicity of “Jerks”, to the hilarity of “Kinetic”, the cheery vibes of “Laughter”, and the wistful “Mileage”, the thought provoking “Overreact”, and fun loving “Umbrella” – each of the poems stand out in their own way. The poet mixes cheeriness (Loving weather, dry or wet, All my days I pirouette) with melancholy (Good things await the last goodbye), and creepiness (It seems that his bark was much worse than his byte) with philosophy (When having it all takes all that you have). The pretty cover is a botanical illustration of zinnias. All-in-all, a fabulous read that was a pleasant detour from the historical work of prose I was reading at the time.  Even those not so much into poetry would appreciate this collection – the poet’s grasp over the English language, the vastness of her lexicon, the range of topics written on, the mélange of emotions covered, and the particular skill set for creating the acrostics is very commendable. Peruse and ponder this one.
Rating – 5/5



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