Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Puma Perl - "Retrograde"

Puma Perl
Great Weather for Media

128 pp.
review by David McLean

This is Puma Perl's second full length collection of poetry. Moving backwards through memory, but not getting worse, as the title might imply. I am assuming that it is not used in the medical sense or the original astrological sense, but maybe in the musical sense, of imitation, or the metamorphosis of organs in botany that assume the appearance of those outside surrounding them. As I remember, in Tristram Shandy the word is used just to mean slow or remiss. Maybe Puma feels her pen has been “a little retrograde” - having written all these things after the event.

The book is for those who do not wake up screaming, but wake up wanting to scream.

Some things the writer relates to belong to what one might call “modern love”:

I know you don't love me anymore.
Your text message was in small letters.
It used to be uppercase.


Everybody knows about caps and computers. The use of caps is not good. A man who writes all in uppercase is not to be trusted, he may be an ax-murderer. & Puma is brave enough to mention Failbook in a poem, the consummate circle jerk for morons where I, along with everybody and his/her grandmother, greedily and gratefully participate. It is a world where people fake orgasms even when they masturbate, and where Puma is one of the very few who actually write poetry that deserves to exist on paper.

One good thing about Puma is that her poetry doesn't particularly remind the reader of anybody else and is never reluctant to refer to popular culture, she even refers to writers from the Facefuck emptiness, which may restrict the book's appeal if potential readers don't know who they are. But this happens relatively seldom, and most of the references are to people like Nico, and there's no excuse for not knowing who she is.

The poems in the book span everything from years of addiction, long ago, to the now where there are “social media” and cell phones. It is a a world where “it is always sometimes, never forever”: as it has always been, it's just a world where it is more glaringly obvious. The poems are both psychologically insecure and artistically secure:

I am a broken basket.
Don't put your eggs in me

(p. 106)

The poems are written with exact confidence, however:

Do not believe
my spoken word,
read my scarred
letters, they crawl
down my arms
like predators.

(p. 31)

Puma asks if the life was all worth it, all the problems and anxiety, just for some poems.
runaway dogs
dead kittens
dark glasses
splintered mind
broken windows
purple dress
bare feet
cold linoleum
patched jeans
ripped shirts
burnt years
welfare cheese
dirty decades
stolen checks
lost kids

was it worth it
just to write
some fucking poems?

(pp. 121f.)

If you buy the book at Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Retrograde-Puma-Perl/dp/0985731729, then I'm sure you'll agree. Well, yes, it was. We do not find ourselves by worrying and reflecting on the “self” - we find ourselves by thoughtfully engaging with our world – and this is what Puma does here, she paints the being wherein she lives.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Reuben Woolley - "the king is dead"

The king is dead
Reuben Wooley
Oneiros Books
review by David McLean

we are all

we have ever been. print on pages
are survivors
out of context. it is all there is
& we have caused too much pain
I burn the past
in making it & the future
is none of my concern.

Reuben Wooley’s new book, his debut collection from Oneiros Books, is a collection of poems that detail the plight of the individual as s/he responds to the fatuity of the vocabulary that repeats itself through her/him. Everywhere where statements have been made and unnecessarily preserved in some psyche a king has died. These deadbeat decedents have constituted the warped psychologies of the young.

I will not say “existential” in this review – sadly I am excluded from suing the word since I know precisely what it means in its many affiliated uses. The word, like “phenomenology”, may only be used in reviews of poetry by people who do not know what it means in most of its formal usages, they know it as a straw to which one may desperately clutch. This exclusion, however, should always be borne in mind. For all the dead kings were pedants, too.

they took meaning from us. all
these words are just
empty hieroglyphs
to play with. I hear you
so sound exists. no song
the music stutters
but cannot end
repetition does not hold
our attention is on
burlesque dancers
who forgot to can

This is a poem called “theft”, in its entirety. And the question of course arises as to the identity of the accused, the general they. Is it the dead king(s), is it teachers, parents, politicians, priests, psychiatrists, any of those who are ill-disposed to the children we have been? Or is it just the words that may not say anymore? And here I surreptitiously cite myself. Because this is how identification works when it comes to poetry; the emptiness of the words in the sense of a missing hidden true meaning means that we insert our own interests.

Like the poem of modalities, potentia summa, since summa potestas is an obvious way of saying “god2, the sum of power qua potential is not god, but zero, and zero does not even indicate the void – it is a placeholder, nothing with which to trouble ontologies.

In Reuben’s poetry the focus is not the existentiell, as is the case with the poems generally referred to by the forbidden word – nor is the focus indicated by the word that I have chosen to forbid myself, stubbornly refusing the inevitable misunderstandings. The focus is the godless psyche as it meets the ontic and tries to achieve the happy, and it is how this may be in fuck, flames and farting. Not to raise a dead finger to some holy wind to see if you are forgiven.

Buy these poems in their book, they are songs the meat might say in order to be free.  It’s on sale here: http://www.paraphiliamagazine.com/oneirosbooks/the-king-is-dead/

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Alison Ross - Clockwise Cats

Clockwise Cats
Alison Ross
chapbook review by David McLean
Fowlpox Press, 2014, 14 pp.

Alison Ross’ new short chapbook is exquisite work. The poems are visual and depict a surreal landscape, drowned in dusk and darkness, like a painting by MirĂ³, since MirĂ³ is the theme of the book and Alison would like to live in one his painting. I suppose she might holiday in a Cure video, maybe even have nightmares there.

The poems are lucid and to the point, as

The hours rain down
like soft sparkling skulls.
The children catch them on their tongues,
eat them like they’re stars,
and become illuminated time

The poems all point to a more precise realization of the real. By showing how the twilight is time exploding into fat spiders who become fat and replete on the darkness before shriveling like lazy vampires under the cunning cruelty of the coming sun, the reader will be brought to understand the foul essence of temporality, unless she is only reading for the cat references.

There are few poems here, and they are enough. The book rewards rereading, and, like all decent poetry, will contribute to taking away your ontological blindness, or, at any rate, do your myopia no end of good. 

Here is the book of the clockwise crepuscular, whether to gaze at vacantly or steadfastly to purchase:  

Michael Mc Aloran - Abbatoir Whispers

Abattoir Whispers

Michael Mc Aloran

Oneiros Books

review by David McLean

This is one of Mc Aloran's best books of prose poetry. The text, as often is the case, providing almost metatextual commentary on the thought, fragmentary since it is operating without the standard illusory surface effects of the allegedly “internal” psychic language that create the aura of normalcy that surrounds the drooling about seagulls trees and suffering that passes for poetry with the beastly poetic das Mann.

Temporality is often responsible for the internal commentary, perhaps Mc Aloran's superego (good luck to him).

I inhale the birthed treachery of the air, I inhaled it, as if coming up for breath from having been drowned, skull-death of obituary, dragging it kicking and screaming from the beginning…no I do not wish to leave, yet I do not want to stay, either, something has shaken the fruits from the razor tree, they sparkle upon rent soil in the moonlight,

Origins are important in poetry, as in philosophy. One wonders what the passing by of the last god, in Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy, would look like, would feel like. Would it be the spray of light that hits the broken brain in a nascent psychosis? The steadfast reticence that stays silent be gibbering to itself? The ground upon which one “stands” before leaping into awareness of Seyn “is” the abyss, not the void . And so often in poems the fucking void is the problem.

The void is not a place. It is not a cozy resort for “madmen” to sneak away for a quiet linguistic wank before breakfast. The problem of meaninglessness is not that there happens to be a shortage, a defective supply of meaning. The problem is more fundamental.

I am the aborted sun, I am the disfigured sneer, I am the slash-hook of my emasculation ejaculating the blood of one thousand ruptures, as the winds subside, someone has locked the door to this barren room, as I no longer exist, nor have I ever been, a smear of blackened bruised flesh, draped in the nightscapes of this foreign absence…

To be in the world is to be dispossessed, dislodged and indeterminate. The Greeks looked at the world with wonder, as children might. We look at the world, Heidegger says, with foreboding, we are fucking worried about it, or, as Mc Aloran might say:

I am nothingness, I ejaculating into the void with streaks of dissipating words, my death, my death my starry death I am alone, no not else, ever else, the violence of existing, the ferocity of birth, a cold stone hearth in which the bones of a child rot unto idiocy, I too am that idiocy, that murder, that abortion, the time taken to un-learn, to forget, dragging as if to speak were enough, as if a whisper could caress, so sayeth the walls, those eternal walls, I collapse I reach I am blind, paralysed, paralysed by dread, beginning now and forgetting for all time, somehow the speech never catches up, as if I ever listened, the maggot of time selects, easing throughout the flesh to subjugate muscle, dragging a million possibilities along with it -as if it mattered...

Because there are more important things to think about than beginnings and ending, there is the sullen glory of all the empty:

I devour my own shadow, I scrape at this flesh that I cannot bury, I observe my scars in wonder, I cannot then see, I suffocate on the bile of my dying, something grips me, viciously and I expire, void of my ineptitude, I am this flesh, this meat, this absolution, this waste…I smile…

The question asked here is not the leading question of western thought, but the basic question, what is being, here reformulated as it must be, “What is this shit?” Not, “What are all these horrors?”, but, “What is this disgusting?”

I lock the door to my own self, swallow the razor key, inhalations of razor blades and the stretch of the sunlight upon spent bones, laughter is death, my shit is death, my cum is death, I laugh at death, my absence, fruitless either way, I have ceased in my dreaming, my longing, I am dead for all time, either way…

This book might in fact document the process whereby one becomes divine, and becomes the sterile progress of the last god as he passes. Anyway, you should get the book which is on sale here http://www.paraphiliamagazine.com/oneirosbooks/abattoir-whispers/