The poems of L. G. Hertz often start off talking about one thing, only to reveal that they are talking about something else. Hertz’s rhyming poetry is traditional in style and easy to read, but it is full of unexpected parallels, combining things that at first seem to be incongruous, for example, The Ibis and the Tapestry, Hiking and Reading, and Auditions of Red.
Strange resemblances come to light (Predators, Wrenching the Wheel, Fantasies and Textbooks); everyday objects take on a life of their own (Alarm Clock, Intermediaries, The Bedazzled Stag); and no matter where the reader finds himself, the scene can be both startling and familiar (Eye Chart, Mars-Earth Phrasebook).
One of L.G. Hertz’s favorite subjects is American English with its quirks and delights, and his light-hearted humorous poems — such as My English-Speaking Dog, A Quartet, and Summer Reading — show a special appreciation for students, especially those who are learning English as a second language. The history of English is a source of fun in Sleeping Beauty, The Bubbling Vernacular, and Degenerate.
Many of Hertz’s poems focus on music and the arts (The Piano Tuner, The Portable Soprano, A Figure of Porcelain). Architecture in particular was for Hertz a mirror of human emotions (Shibumi and the Baroque), and within the varied settings of his poems, images mix the outer and inner world (In a Draft, The Elevator Banks of the Lethe Building, Portage.) Familiar landmarks are seen in a new light (The Hotel St. Bonaventure), and foreign locales are inseparable from American culture (Remake, The Tourists, The Un-Exotic).
“A poem is a conversation between two friends — the reader and the poet,” said L.G. Hertz. “They both contribute their own personal reactions, and as long as the reader keeps on reading, the conversation develops.” Hertz’s poetry invites readers to accompany him into variations and complications (The Fire Discusses Everything, The Idea of a Surface , Another Algebra).
Images often shift suddenly in size and scale, going from miniature to magnified, and vice versa. In If Rhyme is a Trap, for example, the cochlea of the inner ear becomes a spiral staircase, and in High-Wire Act, the cables of suspension bridges line up like guitar frets.
Hidden affinities lie at the heart of all of the poems of L.G. Hertz, and he returns again and again to the theme that antiquity is inherent in modernity (The Roofers, Danish Cabinet, Bas-Relief), and religious faith inherent in science (Equilibrium, Powers of Ten, Duns Scotus on Television).