Posted January 14, 2020.

Chasing Down the Storm – by Charles R. Castle, Jr. reviewed by Joy McDowell

Improbable Press, 2019, 110 pages   $20

ISBN 9781088457542

Available at –

Fluidity is the word that came to mind as I read Charles Castle’s latest collection of poems. Divided into seven sections, Chasing Down the Storm does indeed chase a panorama of personal pathos and characters that utilize a bridge between nature and the human struggle to comprehend life.

The author’s images enhance the combined fabric of those two elements. In “She Comes Like Candles,” his lines demonstrate this relaxed connection:

                                    My lover

                                    comes like candles

                                    on the snows

                                    of Christmas Eves.

The reader moves inside the poet’s head in “Under a Green-leafed Sky,” with verse that celebrates the bliss and brevity of summer—a universal view that floats the lines:

We count the days of June

As if they could not end.

We sleep our morning slumbers

Rich as momentary thieves.

In the poem “Hiking Sweet Creek,” the reader is moving through the countryside before making the hike up a route carved with waterfalls:

                                    A narrow road competes for space

Where the creek flows between foothills

Through what is less a valley

Than a series of hollows

Of pastureland and small farms.

Having made this hike myself, I could not help smiling at the line All manner of dogs on

 leashes …

Even a hint of malevolence is folded discreetly into an amusing scenario in the short seven-line offering “When the Truth Hurts. I found my head nodding in agreement.

                                    Load the gun son

                                    We’re going to shoot the messenger

                                    He’s hunting quail up on the Bixbee Road

                                    Accidents happen all the time

                                                and his turn’s overdue

                                    Load the gun son

                                    I never liked what he had to say

Castle is a romantic. On the couch we speak of things/ like fruit we cannot reach. This line from “Divine Therapy” turns over in a languid manner familiar to lovers. Hinted rhyme keeps the physical ardor in pace with the intellectual statement about the complexity of attraction and a reluctance to embrace love fully.

 Readers will find entertainment in tales about wild places, such as “Tequila up the Trapline.” This poem inserts the reader smack into the dysfunction of a Montana character. Imagine if you will, a Montana trapper singing Patsy Cline and driving through the snow while he tells the reader his hard luck story without complaint, just stating his facts. Image upon image dress the stage.

The snow blows deep, it’s ten below

The upper road ain’t clear

My truck is totaled in a ditch

My wife’s down south of here

She’s shacked up flush in Bigfork

With a Bozeman friend of mine 

From the section titled Clouds and Clarity, Castle gives us a longer poem, If You See My Brother.” It takes the reader on a touching and timeless search for the lost portion of each family, each relationship pursued, each disappointment weathered.

He might have joined a union once,

    mining coal or in the Merchant Marine,

    or packing alongside migrants

    pickin’ in the San Juaquin.

Someone said they saw him in Alberta

    during Vietnam.

I found Chasing Down the Storm delightful to read, worth rereading, and totally unpretentious.

Charles Castle supervises the building of Conestoga Huts for the homeless. He donates all proceeds from the sale of his book to this cause. What a wonderful opportunity for OPA members to enjoy a good read and support a pressing need.

Reviewer Bio:

Joy McDowell is a poet who writes from Sky Mountain outside of Springfield, Oregon. She has been published by Uttered Chaos Press. A fourth chapbook is moving toward publication.

One thought on “Chasing Down the Storm – by Charles R. Castle, Jr. reviewed by Joy McDowell

  1. I think Joy’s review catches much of the variety of this book. As a poetry-bud of Charles, I have enjoyed his energy and insight, the rapid advance of his work. I try to be along every step with him on the chase!

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