Fragrance Upon His Lips

Exquisite and carefully crafted, these moving and highly readable poems relate Joan’s birth, her Annunciation (as it were), the superstition and fear of her by her father, and the plaintive longing of her mother after Joan had left the family farm: “Jeanne, Jeanne, où vas-tu?” …Other poems relate Joan’s warrior-nature, the battles, her wounds, fears, triumphs, imprisonment, her trial by the Inquisition, her relationship with God, and her execution at the stake.

“Jeanne’s Revelation,” placed before “The Night Before She Dies,” seems the book’s climactic poem, a song of love as much as a paen to the divine. Here Joan exults that she is “a song on the lips” of God who, as her “fiercest knight,” is “all the troops I shall ever need,” because “He is cannon, catapult, and saber.” God, she confesses, is her “Lover,” and she, “fragrance upon His lips.”

The last poem is a personal, private-made-public dedication by the author, “To Jeanne D’Arc,” that closes with heart-rending poignancy: “Oh, might you have lain/​at home…husbanded, still, and good:/​we could have missed your raging end. We could.”

--Joseph A. Soldati, "The Bookshelf,"
North Shore Living

AWARDS: Helen Marie Casey's "Sprung Rhythm" was the 14th National Poet Hunt winner, judged by Thomas Lynch. Her poem, "The Loneliness of the Heart Is Forever," won The Frank O'Hara Prize of The Worcester County Poetry Association.

Contemporary poetry. Poetry of Witness.
This work is highly recommended not only to literature lovers but also to politicians, ethicists, historians, and students of international relations. It is protest poetry at its best.
Helen has two poems in The Paterson Review, "All Those Bodies" and "Aunt Helen".
These poems are part of a collection-in-progress about three generations of an Italian- Catholic family.
The author visits post-Civil War racial history in the school system in Portland, Oregon.
Casey’s poems are compelling. Throughout, Casey’s lyrical voice resonates.
--Vivian Shipley
Deft. Real, honest, terse, sinewy, searing, passionate poems of emotional and sensual immediacy
--Brian Doyle