Being a spoken word poet and an internet phenomenon, Rudy Francisco definitely knows what it takes to charm the hearts of the young-adults. Hence, it becomes much needed that a review is given about his debut book Helium that was published recently in 2017. Helium is composed of a variety of poems on different topics, such as mental illness, love, race, and self-forgiveness. As mental illness is a vast and sensitive matter, not everyone can give it a proper shape through words. However, this was not the case for Francisco as he discussed these difficult feelings artistically and skillfully throughout his book Helium.
His poem “Haunted” is an example of a very common issue that we all go through – self-loathing. It is very easy to fall victim to the inferiority complex in an era where everyone is under a hegemonic pressure to show their best versions. The lines of this poem capture the struggle it requires to bounce back from such a toxic feeling:
On days like this,
I am the house and
responsible for my
My brain is a revolver
with “Am I good enough?”
in every chamber.
So I turn into a factory that
only makes the word “yes”
and I say it until it can easily
be mistaken for the truth,
but my voice shakes
and the answer still sounds
like a question. (Haunted, Francisco)
Apart from mental illness, the poet also talks about another abstract topic – love. For example, the poem “Mess”, about toxic love, is a brilliant example of the different elements that compose love.
“… I found you, looking like a damaged wine glass.
I hugger your shatter. I cut all of my fingers
Trying to jigsaw puzzle you back together.
When it was over,
You looked at the stains on the carpet
And blamed me for making a mess.”
(“Mess” by Rudy Francisco)
Thus, throughout the book, Francisco’s writing style blooms magnificently through his use of metaphors and similes that make his poems relevant and timeless. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested to understand the ideas of human emotions in depth.