Below, you will find a short list of recently devoured poetry collections, reviewed in condensed form for your utmost pleasure.
1. Spacecraft by John McCullough
In Spacecraft, McCullough assaults the thing we overlook the most; space. Understood in various ways, it materialises as both the distance between two rocks on a howling beach, and the tattered stretch of feeling between lovers halved by time and circumstance.
The concept itself could’ve easily expanded into a listless writing exercise, a way of flexing both the hand and its grasp on the imagination. Instead, the poet perfumes every line with emotion, tumbling back into misdirected liaisons, the wretched loss of a beloved, and the isolation of living in a society starved for connection. There is no art for art’s sake here. Rage is as readily housed as tenderness.
As a result, it’s hard to keep from tearing through the pages. Stranded and harshly present in every moment, we’re led to crave the monotony of longing. It’s both a torture and a delight to be consumed by the same words one is actively anatomizing.
Taken from Mastodon and Mouse:
“Skeletons are stealing through my house.
Mornings and evenings I hear them
skitter upstairs, cross rooms.
Their steps are light — the noise
all bone on bone, chink and thunk.
Every kind of beast: monkey,
groundhog, ibis. Sometimes, when I stare
in mirrors, one stops and approaches.
Today it’s a horse, elegant, huge.
I always forget their size,
how — if one wanted — it could fit me
inside its belly. But that isn’t
a horse’s way. What they do is worse.
Its long skull lingers above my shoulder.
It floats slowly down.
It noses my spine.”
Publication date: May 2, 2016 (Penned in the Margins)
2. Fanged Dandelion by Eric LaRocca
LaRocca’s slim poetry collection, Fanged Dandelion, was born out of an attempt at stunting a mind bent on fleeing the confines of the body. Plagued by disturbing thoughts of detriment — both felt and inflicted on his loved ones — the poet retreats into the fluidity of language, outpouring panic and decay, only to capture the magnificence of exposure.
As a prolific writer of horror, LaRocca treats the reader to a stream of gruesome contortions. Fear of forsaken sentiments, the unlit depths of the self, and the images the eyes flick through when concealed from others, all slither down a spine bared for tacit acts of violence. The extent of their reach is up to us to determine.
Taken from His Grinning Spine:
my vertebrae smiles
lips slit in half
rotted tongues pruning
I unwrap a ribbon of
scarlet from his throat
he thanks me for
being so tender
I prop his arm with
pins and wires
just like I had done
with the small bird
I had found on my
walk this morning
wings speared with
a voice whispering,
I’m not ready to let you go yet“
Publication date: December 31, 2020 (Demain Publishing)
3. original kink by Jubi Arriola-Headley
Original kink is an ode to queerness, filial love, masculinity, Blackness, passion, resilience, vulnerability, and the longings of the body. In its sheer scope, the collection reads almost like a novel, entwining narratives and snapshots of reality to produce a tale of shared intimacy.
Tyranny and immortality — history and oblivion — are broken up by muted admissions of expectancy; the tenderness for another and for the splinters dividing reason from brutality, both outward and self-inflicted.
Emotions drool into each other, tainting inflexions of want and yearning. As a result, neon lights blink from every verse, saturating the eye while demanding the reader’s tongue, which lays swollen from the weight of mouthed words.
Taken from Like a Goddamn Puppy Dog, I Tell Ya:
“Claim my body, break it,
use it as you will; I long
for the lash of riding crop,
that stunning sting of skin;
I long for the stricture
of stiletto. Pierce me, peg me,
spank this bare bottom blue,
only spare me that longing
that comes on parting,
not belly; my whimpers
worry the neighbors.”
Publication date: October 12, 2020 (Sibling Rivalry Press)