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December 17, 2020 / barton smock

{ I didn’t say nearly enough this year, but } @ isacoustic.com

The Wishbone Dress
poems, Cassandra J. Bruner
Bull City Press, 2019

I worry sometimes that I have been invisibly abandoned. That a context left unsaid has given its art to a museum obsessed with displaying beginnings. Beginnings only. And then, but then, there is work devoid of panic, work unlike, work with words not so much chosen but words more revealed, work that enters the dead and encodes the universal to amplify the specific, work that with its subtle harmony of discovery sings as to horn a ghost a backbone and then lures that ghost into the modified regions of beauty and transitional creation, work that asks existence for the emergency past imposed on another’s sudden body, that asks of our being here what violence we interrupted, work that is only named The Wishbone Dress, and is called into sound by Cassandra J. Bruner. Work I wish you to read, and in the reading, be unleft.

{ The Wishbone Dress – poems – Cassandra J. Bruner }

~

In The Field Between Us
Molly McCully Brown + Susannah Nevison
Persea Books, 2020

It is possible our maker knows we are makerless. What can we do? Pair up, perhaps. Read outwardly, together, this In The Field Between Us, placed so mortally within by poets Molly McCully Brown and Susannah Nevison. Look, I have wanted to write you. But instead I cup my hands by holding this book while elsewhere I clay and call inside its impression of response. Oh body, with your origin stories for mirrors. Oh eye, with your cut of arrival’s winnings. I was wrong to think correspondence would turn one lonely. Here, in a verse predating what is both former and latter, are two as two bringing transport to a standstill. Should I go on? Can I? How pure and wrecked can language be? I can’t say, but start here. There are tools used in this work that don’t exist. I needn’t be whole, but am by them, fixed.

{ In The Field Between Us – poems – Molly McCully Brown + Susannah Nevison }

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The Flavor Of The Other
poems, Clara Burghelea
Dos Madres, 2020

Clara Burghelea’s The Flavor of the Other is both a progressive exit and an appearing act. Inside of each, stillness awaits no inheritance. Full of confessional reserve and prayers that maybe begin with amen, these poems carry the exaggerated possessions of location as the divided theft of void and oblivion. Burghelea knows taste as a portal through which one can swap hungers, and makes of self an otherness versed in the familiarities of a becoming not saddled with being. If it is here that migration and exile are two birdwatchers marked by the same talon, then a reader may place themselves as one combed by any scar that holds hair as the body’s longest fire while another counts backward then forward using absence as census.

{ The Flavor Of The Other ~ poems ~ Clara Burghelea }

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Poetry Against All
a diary
Johannes Göransson
Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2020

I am no expert and have little idea what to say about impossible books. Johannes Göransson’s Poetry Against All is one such book. Is many such books. Little idea does not mean I can be quiet. What is impossible? A safe child. A coroner who disappears to plan simple kidnappings for the elaborately still. I continue. I stop. Göransson keeps this diary alive. Fossil porn. A more exact resurfacing. Some things poke through; holes in movies, a mask thrown from a moving dream, a photograph taken by a hand. I don’t know how this draws, but know I am drawn. But am also, surrounded. Held and carried. I might have it backward. Some prenatal eternity, some austere intercourse, some uprooted sickness ghosted by certain immunities unique to the tourist’s stunt double. I have only recently forgotten how to write. If I am nostalgic, let me be so in the center of this secret as someone specifically somewhere who can’t live on resurrection alone but longs to witness a fire being set on fire. Gone, then here.

{ Poetry Against All ~ a diary ~ Johannes Göransson }

~

Requisite
Tanya Holtland
Platypus Press, 2020

Does silence ever notice the quiet? Can doom move the past? Are we, by listening, able to pose our ask into a speaking that might enter unheard the conversation so lovingly and urgently remembered in Tanya Holtland’s Requisite? What language, what ghostly origin, what presence. With unassigned awareness, and while swallowing the clinical eye of attention, Holtland knows to talk underwater about distance and to use both our archival futures and communal isolations to render a spiritual economy of verse enough for us to picture multiple ecologies from the vantage point of some same animal with the ability to wonder secretly which four shapes will be on the test. And what of those stills of misplaced exits that were slipped into the water-damaged photo album of an escape artist, and what of our walking, and what of our inaction? Whether one scores the self with the informed angels of chorus or notes loneliness by the marked angel of solo, here, in all its local holiness, is a needed response to being made from the call.

{ Requisite ~ Tanya Holtland }

~

Unfinished Murder Ballads
poems, Darren C. Demaree
w/ photo accompaniment of Ryan Barker’s ‘Midwest Nostalgia’
Backlash Press (2020)

The premise of blood is a color.
-from The Facts Persisted

On the occasion that flood brings you a painted body, know that I had everything to do with it…
-from The Cage Is Unwound By The Poetry Of Death

As if hiding in Eden after hearing a pop-gun, the poet Darren C. Demaree makes short work of vast vision in his Unfinished Murder Ballads, a collection of implanted cares and layered addictions as played for those still awake inside the cinema of the abrupt. Whether ashes or trailings, Demaree finds the evaporated clue and spirits it toward the character actor whose family feels abandoned by exit. Nothing in this meditation overstays, and at times it seems that words are at a loss for people. If the verses here make their first impressions hoping to access the fractured archive of impulse survival, the bodies that said verses nourish know, or pretend to know, that paranoia has only one hand. Water helps vacancy find a vein, and water goes everywhere baptism is not. Poison is the shortest story, and paint protects the frostbitten. A pair of bicycle legs dreams submergence, and a camera dreams god. Not everything comes to pass, but in the etching of this death music, in the crooked humming of shared worship and separate goal, a stillness is reached. Vignette is no small church.

{ Unfinished Murder Ballads – poems – Darren C. Demaree }

~

Ribald
essays – Alina Stefanescu
INCH, issue 44
Bull City Press (2020)

The writer Alina Stefanescu is a student of curious worry, loyal to irreverence and a giver of passage and path. These essays, on sight, put one in the middle of understanding, where one knows perhaps how to read, but not yet how to re-read. As a child, I heard of a child who stopped playing hide-and-seek because they would forget to hide. I heard this from a child distracted by god. None of this is true, but it could be. Ribald is a work that continues to begin, that opens the body might it out what’s been baked into, that offers the unexpected as a cure to prophecy, that misplaces to protect.

{ Ribald – essays – Alina Stefanescu }

~

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