“The voice is elegiac with an unsentimental edge: to kill is language enough. Certain swerves of syntax and sensibility remind me of the late work of Larry Levis: lines forming sinuous, hypotactic sentences wending through memory into clearings of raw emotional discovery. This is a poet unafraid of risk, as exemplified in “This Poem Has Been Sanitized for Your Protection” and “A Good Guy With A Poem.” Very few books hold a mirror to America as this one does.”Carolyn Forché
Selected by Carolyn Forché as the winner of Jacar Press’s Full-length contest.
The video is silent. The bomb smaller than a trenching
tool. It falls to the ambient sounds of your home,
the neighbors’ children playing outside in the street,
autumn birds calling to each other in the trees.
The bomb, adorned in blue and gold stripes, shrinks
towards two men in a foxhole curled close like twins
in a womb, colored in the drab palette of battle, the hue
and shade of the soil that will consume their bodies.
You are God, or what’s replaced Him, above it, watching
the bomb descend like a terrible word from your mouth,
like spittle. The bomb blasts inches from the men’s knees.
Debris kicks up towards your face hovering over the scene.
Dust shakes loose in a cloud from the ground surrounding
them. As the smoke clears, one man drags himself
out by an arm, legs kicking, faltering. The other lurches
and rises, fumbling in concussed stupor. Your last glimpse
of the men is the moment the end of the first man’s
left arm blossoms bright red where his hand used to be.
Outside your window, children laugh and squeal on scooters,
on skateboards, on bicycles. Steam creaks in the warming radiators.
A breeze shakes leaves loose from the trees, showering the children
in confetti of gold, umber, auburn, crimson, under a cloudless sky.
From the opening poem, which could be a response to Nazim Hikmet’s “On Living,” Matt Hohner writes out of the chaos of our present dystopia, in the predawn twilight of another long century/ at the edge of a thousand years. It is as if the uprisings in Tiananmen and Ferguson, Hong Kong and Baltimore were happening all at once, in the half-pipe of the world’s end, in poems that begin in the imaginative densities of childhood, and traverse the lived pandemic, the hatching of Brood X, the violence that surrounds and permeates our built and natural spheres.
$17 – ISBN: 978-0-936481-54-8