Ramblings of A Mad Southern Woman: Ashley Fontainne
Inner torment, rage, fear of the unknown, emotional upheavals, childhood nightmares or fears comprise the various themes of this diversified collection of vividly and graphically depicted poems and short stories by author Ashley Fontainne. Throughout the collection of poems you hear different voices of this author as she relates incident in her life, her inner most thoughts and feelings as we enter her world, get to really understand what so many would hesitate to write as she takes the reader on a journey that will make you laugh, cry, angry and entranced with her amazing thoughts and words. As you open the book and read the dedication and forward you get just a glimpse of the true Ashley but not until you begin your journey or tip into her poetry and experience the emotions, fears, rage, revenge and her constant faith in her God, her family and herself will you truly understand The Ramblings of a Mad Southern Woman.
Beginning with the first poem “A Question” which sets the stage for Morality Be Damned where she imparts her victory, her creativity and joy at destroying her possessions, as the smoke fills the room and the match is lit and the morality of more than just her possessions goes up in flames. The smile as she does her work and feels no anger or remorse says it all. Quite compelling. “Words” is really quite interesting almost like a pyramid poem starting off with a positive description of the ocean breeze, describing the beauty of someone, lovely words, feelings of love and hearts that intertwine but then there is a radical change in her emotions. The person no longer feels anything but deceit, rage and hate for this person as she emits her own form of poisonous words destroying what was once beautiful. A toxic relationship that turns even more toxic. Following by “Pulsating Wound,” which expands on her true feelings or an extension of the poem Words. Rage as she describes her anger, fears and hoping something will pull her through but all she sees is RED.
Each poem centers on a different emotional event in the life of the person whose voice you hear as “Snickering,” describes the backstabbing, the harsh words not supposed to be heard behind your back, with an end result that is filled with bruises, battering and yet faith in him.
The first short story really strikes a chord with me as we relates what happens when she decides to enter the sea, swim, overcome a fear that many have of the ocean. Some feel they will be dragged down with the current if they go in too far, too fast and too deep. The thoughts that invade her head each time the ocean calls her as she relates in the introduction, and immerses herself within the confines of the warmth of the ocean almost forgetting her fears until something happens that creates pain and fear within her body. What happens is not uncommon and her reaction and ability to overcome amazing. The Climb is a great poem that tells a story about how triumph, success, defeat, fear and finding your purpose and begging or asking for help. “Another Day” almost seems like she is describing her feelings as she goes through the motions at work trying to type, write what’s needed or even express her thoughts on paper. “White Knight,” is another opposite poem, which starts out describing her feelings about someone in a beautiful way and then midstream changes to hate and anger.
There are so many stories in this collection that I have decided to spotlight just four in my review. Stained Concrete, Death By Shadow, How 9/11 Saved My Dad and A Tale of Two Bulbs. Revenge comes when you least expect it and often justice takes what some think a blind eye when money is involved and power. Stained Concrete is the story of Marie and her loyalty to her friend Cara. Cara is brutally beaten and the suspect needs to pay and serve his full sentence. Right out of Edgar Allan Poe this story is eerie, frightening and has all the earmarks of a Poe ending. Ashley Fontaine creates a story so graphically depicted, told by Marie in her own voice and ending in the true classic way of a create horror story. Revenge and Justice: Marie’s way. Read it to find out just how Marie gets justice for Cara but the courts do not. “Death by Shadow,” is next in her collection of short stories. Fear stalked the night of a nine-year-old child that thought she witnessed someone in her room. Describing what she saw to her mother and trying to explain her fears did not get her too far. Screaming and yelling for her mother brought her to her side but all the soothing in the world did not calm this child. Her mother thought it was just a nightmare but what was it in reality? What shadow did she see hovering over her? Afraid to stay alone in her room her mother allowed her to keep her cat there for the night. Why did the cat stand guard over her? What did her see? Next, How did 9/11 Save My Dad, which is quite uplifting and unique? The story offers hope, joy and redemption not only to her but to her father too. As the author describes her father’s conflicts and feelings towards God and how this single event changed his perspective and life, we learn more about the author’s deep devotion to her faith in the Lord. Discussions with him about salvation did not meet a positive response for many years. But, her stepmom felt that things just might change and with her help she was able to finally communicate her thoughts and he finally accepted God. The smoke, ash, the carnage and the senseless murders of so many still flood the hearts and memories of so many. As she meets with her father what happens will make you smile and even bring tears to your eyes. What we witnessed that day will never disappear from our minds nor will anyone ever allow the terrorists to blindside us again. America needs to stay alert now and forever let there be no more ashes.
Finally A Tale of Two Bulbs rounds out the four stories that I am spotlighting. Patience is a virtue that many do not have but need to cultivate. In this simple yet thought provoking story of two maidens you might find the answers to many other questions. Two young maidens find magnificent bulbs with a sweet aroma on a grassy hilltop. One decides to take care of her bulbs and leave them in the soil, water them and care for them daily. Patience and nurturing her babies and making sure they would be cared for. The second wanted immediate gratification and decided she could improve on Mother Nature and tore the bulbs from the soil and planted them in a cold and hard ceramic pot. The end result is truly remarkable. Both maidens had bulbs that grew but the differences you have to read for yourself. Instant gratification does not always yield the results you want. Find out why after reading this story. Who is Michael is the next story and Purple Mountains Majesty round out all of the outstanding stories in this collection. Ramblings of A Mad Southern Woman is more than just ramblings it is pure writing and story telling at the highest level. Let’s give this book: FIVE RAMBLING ROSES
Fran Lewis: reviewer