This beautifully produced little book relishes around with language, ranging from quirky trips of tinfoil meditations, newsprint postcards and bleeding disco balls to more sober consideration of words in the gaping maw of time. Eulogies and playfully quilted epistolarities bloom here, lush and pleasant to romp around in. “When I pray for doves, stray pigeons descend to me; I strap sentence-scraps satcheled to their backs, fly them off cross-country at random intervals,” we hear at one point. “Inside the hot black pit of you,” we’re told at another, “objects once ours floated on the dark. Scraps of postcard, photograph, mandolin, blooming forest: too heavy to swim up.”
So while some of this volume locates itself “Inside the velveteen whalemouth” or with the hallucinogenic wisps of narrative accumulated in phrases like “The mailman arrives with notification that my lightbulb resides in Antarctica, in the cellar of the Nightmare Fishery Museum. He has a picture. He has a map.” there is a lower key as well, wherein “the whale corpse” washes up on the beach, “its ruined, mineral grin” stark in the morning light. “Someday bits of my story will fall somewhere in the vicinity of your coordinates?” a narrative voice emerges, at one point, to ask, and while such fallout is envisioned in the same wild register as the mailman’s news (will my story “Materialize in your medicine chest, the toe of a brand-new tubesock, on your tongue during a dream of snow?” the poem asks), this is no nonsensical surface play. Rather, there is something painfully real under the images, visceral as a “Gash of belly; an opening in a gutted story to swim out of; a cloud of ink-stained blood.”
“I will never have that hot sauce, that grandmother, that handwriting again,” reads another poem, archiving loss. A nostalgia for that which has been drowned, ruined, bled over and lost its teeth permeates this collection, yet relayed in crackling braids of phrase. “Problem: I’ve forgotten the correct dimensions with which to construct a tear. (I believe Mother used romancenovel-cornstarch-laced-with-celebrity-obituary. But hers turned out flat and unintelligible as razor blades.)” This is a satisfying book, well worth the ticket price.