Review of Once In a Lifetime, a poetry collection by F. Richard Thomas

ISBN: 978-0-9608802-0-1

published by Years Press

6×9   97 pages

cover design: Helen Stork


Beginning with the cover I felt the personality and humanity of Dick Thomas. Standing by his young wife, a baby slung on his hip, her arms wrapped around a second child, we see them young, burly and confident standing in front of a log cabin they have built themselves. In the poem Brown County, Indiana, Thomas makes his most poignant point considering how unfamiliar these shining young people would be with the frailties and complications of aging that the poet and his wife, Sherry, now face well into the second half-century of their lives and marriage. And we learn what these optimistic youth managed to hold on to all these years later as they shore up the autumn of their existence. It is mature writing, a mature subject, told with poignancy, humor and self-awareness – a good example of how we all can face our futures.

I Walked the Dog Today

but this time

we took a new route

and met a new dog


It was a

once in a lifetime



Dick Thomas calls himself a student of the alchemy of words and I see it so clearly with a Beatlick Joe enjoyment in the poem Logophilia: My callipygian septuagenarian. And elsewhere such enjoyable words as beef-witted, gargonized, slubberdegullion.

The reader learns who the poet is as an individual in personal poems: Chemistry, Naming the Trees in New Mexico, My Desk, in clever ways, with a knack. You can’t accuse the writer of being hackneyed.

This is a great book to read in the bed, on the deck, someplace quiet, because these poems will elicit your own memories and truths, struggles. It is told as the author says in his own final poem:

A Language

that falls in a lovely curve

from the lip of creation.

Review by Beatlick Pamela Hirst who can be reached at Pamela Hirst runs the  Beatlick Press at



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Stoned awake, the last email
my brother sent signed off,
“I woke to lightning strikes today.
There’s a sin storm about the land.”
Some bitter, easy urge–
redolent with breakdown, a frantic ignorance
sent him to a Douay Bible,
arcane modulations of drugging dosage.
“I drop acid in the clubs,” he said,
“to wander in wonder at the colors of cocktails.”
The family’s greedy baby, born for addiction,
he used charm’s airy gesture
to distance and disconnect.
He went along—dining out, rehab, service jobs
until death at 45, drunk to the day.
The obituary noted his bar name,
two surviving sisters in attendance.
I said good-bye 2 weeks earlier,
seeing him lean in sickness between two cars,
a cigarette cupped in a shaking hand.