I’ve been putting off reading poetry for a while now. Mostly because I’ve spent most of my time stumbling around the weird stitched-together monster that this year has been. It’s been half glutted days of bodily fluids and the dazed plumpness of new flesh, half excess of dead words that had to be hauled around and reconfigured in various positions. Sometimes I had to break some bones since rigor mortis had already set in.
So I’m feeling somewhat fuzzy at the moment, and queasy, and a bit patchy. There are stunned bits of me all over. Given this I figured I’d better stay away from poetry for a bit. It’s not for the weak of spirit. Instead I bolstered myself with some bland pap: magazines, baby books, some mostly nondescript novelly things. I know.
It’s just as well I waited before reading Gary Cummiskey’s new poetry chapbook, Romancing the Dead, published by Tearoom Books. Sure, there’s plenty of razorwire, but it’s not the razorwire that will get you. It’s the big, hollow, echoing melancholy below the jagged, surreal surface. Gary’s deadpan surrealism is December on the Highveld, with its blisters of hot tar and endlessly bleached afternoons that hide the sinkholes quietly opening up below.
(And I love the cover, with its austerely retronostalgic look. The design sensibility over at Tearoom Books is totally lovely.)
First published on Messy Things With Words