In “Ordinary Inspiration,” Brian Wayne Maki offers a collection of poems that asks readers to pay attention to all the small gifts that exist in their everyday lives; as many of Brian’s more nostalgic poems reveal, the ordinary moments are usually the ones that become the fondest and most meaningful memories.
In a straightforward, honest introduction, Brian, who is a computer instructor as well as poet, expresses his dismay and concerns over how technology is separating people, filling their lives with largely meaningless communication as we allow days and nights spent in front of a computer screen to replace our opportunities to learn from Nature and from each other through personal interaction. For example, in “Tiny Cell Phone,” Brian remarks, “The cell phone has made us a lazy contributor/We are really pondering, driving and meeting less.”
However, Brian does not harp on technology but rather focuses on the positive moments of life. The vast majority of his poems highlight moments that might have seemed ordinary but became extraordinary for him-moments that bring back pleasant memories, life lessons, and perspectives on personal growth. The poems continually center on a personal connection with Nature and also the value of personal relationships, from friendships to being a parent to finding love. The value of relationships is especially highlighted in “White Doves Flying.”
Most of Brian’s poems have a gentleness and nostalgia about them, although occasionally, he veers toward the more frightening moments in life as in “Night Stalker” when he writes about being followed home from work by a drunken man. Although like Brian, I tend to be an optimist, perhaps my favorite poem in this collection is “Tough Love” because it has a sarcastic bite to it reminiscent of Thomas Hardy’s work, through the recurring last line of each stanza: “But you will soon learn how tough love can be.”
While readers will find their own favorite poems that resonate with them, ultimately, all of these poems are a reminder that life is a journey filled with meaning when we look for that meaning. We might find meaning in a sunset or a snowy day, but we also might find it in what Brian calls the “Potholes of Life”: “You have to make the mistakes to learn and move on/And you must learn to sidestep the potholes of life.” He reminds us that we are all searching and trying to find meaning and inspiration in ordinary lives; in “Life Skills,” he writes, “To those who have been able to carve out a solid life/Do not forget where you came from and how you did it.” Brian is a firm believer that, ultimately, good results in life, and because we learn from our difficulties, he asks readers to share what they have learned with others who are struggling. For that very reason, Brian writes his own poems, hoping to give inspiration and hope to others.
As Brian reminds us in the title poem, “It is amazing where inspiration comes from/An old, barren highway in the early morning/A single tree standing in the meadow grove.” Readers will find magic in their ordinary lives when they look for it, and Brian’s poems may help to point them in the right direction to finding that magic.