Delphic Review: Poetry

poetry review Spacecraft John McCullough original kink Jubi Arriola-Headley Fanged Dandelion Eric LaRocca

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)

Rating: 5


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:

“chrysanthemum kiss

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

little toothpicks

a voice whispering,

I’m not ready to let you go yet


Publication date: December 31, 2020 (Demain Publishing)

Rating: 4


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)

Rating: 5

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