REFLECTIONS FROM THE OTHER SIDE (the world through the eyes of a bartender) is an eclectic collection of poetry written by Bruce Wayne Sullivan, a former bartender. Inspired by his South Louisiana roots and his bartending experiences, Sullivan takes the reader on a sojourn through the inner world of the human psyche, spanning the crossroads of human experience that reflect turning points where most people have been. This is a down in the trenches book and the reader should be prepared to take a downward descent where the deafened echoes of impoverished America can be heard.
“Reflections from the Other Side (the world through the eyes of a bartender) is a fascinating look into man/womankind, examining the human condition from the perspective only available to the local bartender (“The other side”). After a few drinks and some quiet self-examination, out pours the stories of loss, woe, or self-glorification into the experienced ears of the bartender, some of whom I’m sure couldn’t care less.
But it is clear that Bruce Wayne Sullivan does care and has the talent and skills to make us care as well. While reading his work, I was invited into his fine-tuned perception and observed a wide variety of personalities, many lost, and many self-absorbed or oblivious. He also provides us with heartfelt glimpses into his own life and soul, (“My Mother”) always self sacrificing and honest.
I believe in this book as a reader and as a student of psychology. It is dark, yet often quite humorous. It digs deep while reveling in the folly of facade (“Histrionic”). I have read and re-read this very enjoyable work, and recommend it to any thinking person.” ~ Chris Costa – Musician/Song writer
“After 11 years of tending bar in Memphis, Tennessee, Bruce Wayne Sullivan has unquestionably earned the right to make any observations he cares to on the state of the human condition. And if the poems in Reflections from the Other Side (the world through the eyes of a bartender) are any indication, he’s managed to witness most of humankind’s highs and lows, especially the lows.
From the woman “with the emotional intelligence of a tree aphid” to the guys with the “low sloping foreheads whose knuckles drag the ground,” Sullivan’s poetic world is filled with characters who “belong to the majority rule (of) ignorance school.” One gets the feeling that Sullivan’s reflections don’t encompass so much the patrons on the other side of the bar as they do the gulf that exists between his own thinking, feeling self and the lack of intellect and compassion in the people he meets.
Unquestionably there’s a certain schadenfreude in reading about the foibles of folks you feel superior to. And as a displaced Yankee residing in a Southern town I hooted with appreciation upon encountering the characters Sullivan describes, characters all too familiar to anyone from the Bible belt.
But Sullivan’s richly nuanced poems are not a collection of redneck bashings, though rednecks certainly appear fairly often in his poetic crosshairs: “The people of his town began to frown/ when he left on a trek. Away to college! Book knowledge/ the enemy of the redneck.” Instead the entire gamut of humanity figures here: the indifferent rich, the vulgar men and self-absorbed women, the lonely and alienated, all stripped to the barest essentials in the lines of the author’s clear, unblinking verse.
But Sullivan knows better than to take the moral high ground or alienate with his poems. These are intensely felt and compassionate works; his honesty in describing his own shortcomings are painful glimpses into a lonely heart: “Growing older was …./ not the imaginings of my youth. All my dreams slipped through my hands/ into the arms of someone else.”
By turn melancholy, sad, funny or filled with longing, the poems in Reflections from the Other Side (the world through the eyes of a bartender) resonate with the reader long after the last page is turned.” ~ New York Times bestselling author: Ellen Tanner Marsh