Book Review: Aroma Truce
A Review of Terrell Jamal Terry's Aroma Truce by Miguel Soto
Terrell Jamal Terry’s Aroma Truce offers an “apocryphal air,” pairing empirical images to instinctive feelings that originate from the body and mind, portraying a vivid representation of truth. In “Or, Trellis,” Terry implies the importance of relating past to present:
“I know the need for leaping
through decades, a dash
of bucolic life & the generous
The speaker of the poem blurs the dialectic between reality and escapism, demonstrating the mind’s ability to create images in other worlds, yet producing a sharp impression on the senses as if the speaker really is in a “6th century northern hemisphere.” The image of a weakened framework illustrates dependency between two characters: “threadbare attic calamity: / Theotokos (or ever after) / leaning into cities,” leading into, “will you marry a hermit / with his mitkam music, / his true happiness away from?” Dependency between two characters draws on the abstract conclusion that Terry’s speaker leads the reader into:
“it is something to be clear
What is the essence of your movement,
& the essence of the text?”
Terry’s speaker suggests the interdependency between image—connoting reality, experience—past and present, and the innate, invisible feelings that pass through the body, which all add up to summarize a distinctive, acceptable truth.
In Terry’s “Meadow Dead Center,” the speaker opens with ambiguities, paving the internal debate between self and other, paralleling the vagueness of one’s feelings with one’s self. “I was thinking I should / collapse the thought when I searched / for an actual thing to pick up,” ponders the speaker; replying back with, “it did not exist.” Terry’s speaker’s unidentified thoughts and feelings reveal an introspective process that a reader may imagine as universal. In an instructive manner, the first stanza concludes, “fractions of ourselves are not necessarily facades,” indicating the many personas a body inhabits, and then exhibits, but with the wary consciousness that not all of the presentations of one’s self is the chief persona. The speaker’s overwhelming conclusion leads to juxtaposition in the sensory input of images:
“multiple circular notes & a dream
we know that no one owns
sends rainbow balm to ears
instead of eyes.”
The paradox produces a personal question made public: “is it an arduous secret / that we don’t want it to leave,” making Terry’s speaker profound, in the sense that the speaker can speak for themselves, and universal emotions. Terry’s speaker gradually abandons “I” statements from the first stanza, utilizing “we” to reach a wider audience, and ultimately forcing the reader to practice the same introspection: “you’d never think / to go there, desiring to be alone, not lonely.”
Essentially, Terrell Jamal Terry becomes a confessional voice for the ambiguous tracings that flow in the very essence of humanity. Terry imagines speakers with extremely personal conflicts, and through the deliberate, poetic musings that Terry practices, Terry manages to connect with a wider audience, forcing readers to meditate on his words, and pull themselves out from within. Aroma Truce is a confluence of personal and public, inward feelings and outward appearances, denotation and connotation. Ultimately, an agreement between the senses—seen and unseen. Aroma Truce is for the reader looking to pin image to feeling and emotion; for the reader looking for an absorbing, inward journey—a universal understanding of unexplainable, half-answered, yet acceptable truths.
Miguel Soto is an English Literature and Language major at Lewis University. He has worked as the Jet Fuel Review’s Special Sections Editor. Currently, he is working as Prose Editor, Book Review Editor, Marketing & Development Editor, Assistant Blog Editor and Art & Design Editor. In his free time, he likes to explore hole-in-the-wall joints near his suburban home. Some days, he likes to drive down 26th St. in Chicago and visit his old hometown, while enjoying all the great snacks the food vendors have to offer.