interviewed these three authors elsewhere about how they "did"
it, that is to say, collaborate, it wasn't like I received three sets
of answers. Group mind groped, it was like talking to the tank. What were
these brains swimming in? One of them claims to be inspired by Aaron Spelling,
which either means The Mod Squad or Twin Peaks.
Facial Geometry opens with
"Pilgrim Raids" and Celan is the first to be raided. His "Nobody
discolors what now streams" becomes "Nobody discolors my little
debbies without a fight," just a smack of what wildness lies ahead.
I have to quote part of the second section:
She and he therefore sicken what prenatality of the
aforementioned watering hole—you, silly! Ramified and Desdemona
and Gilgamesh in and out of the brambled yacht. Our ocean. Our play
dirt. Our mortified and relinquished testimonials. Our virile eggs and
forever immortality. Our shovels and our pills.
is an abecedarium verse play, "words put together to form a toy."
"Pancetta" pits herself against Volvica, who later returns as
the title of another poem but bearing an exclamation point, that banned
poet's punctuation. "Roe vs. Wade" can't resist mentioning water:
"Underwater he was fabulous," and fish eggs turn into poppy
seeds soaked in Catholicity—that city—and in sex. No insects.
"Syracuse" is where the staple meets the book, so it must be
important: sperm and infinity. We're in the cccold city looking down looking
Spine break: Two of the poets
are my ex-students (full disclosure) and the other taught them everything
and then they taught her back. Look at Seaton's last book, Venus Examines
Her Breast: the woman knows words are clay, not language swamped
by the page—she says Yes. What more can a teacher do? More. "And
we abolished the need for gravity," they write in "Opera Bouffe."
"Notes on Dawning"
includes a fill-in-the-blank section (shades of Jorie Graham and madlibs)
and a recipe. I'm not keen on recipes in poems (that's about as critical
as I can get), so thank goodness the poem devolves into three columns
and ends on the word "dawn." "On the 909" dances the
reader all around, starting with "Foot stomping periodically has
a dialect. It goes like this. Caw, caw." It's breathtaking how they
end up in "The Green Money Tree." They storm the poem by any
means necessary: sotto voce, lists, declarations, personification, neologisms—they
went thataway. At every turn, the poets interrogate the text, contradict
it, drag in other poems, abuse them. By the time you get to "The
Fourth Dementia" you're ready for the manifesto: "We rely too
heavily upon the body of the text. This is not the body of the text. This
is the remainder of our perception."
with "Forget the Phds darling," and ends with "You can
see where I'm going with this," and I'm delighted that I can't. "We
rely too heavily on the body of the text" occurs again in "Nut
Jobs" then the poem explodes into another three-column fury. Finally,
there's Ye Olde Title Poem—at the end. It's filled with Americanismo
that twists: "There's a face. It rises in some smoke in my dream.
I will translate it for you."
The poets "translate"
throughout the book, retooling the edge of cognition right up to the funny
or sad, engage cheekbone to cathedral buttress, and infer that the DAR
are playing too. No convulsive personal revelations here. The chapbook's
handsome three-eyed cover gives you the once-over at first glance. It
won't be your last. Besides, I haven't even told you about "Planet
Napkin" or "The Pekinese Journal."