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  • By Bill Yarrow
    Jun 27, 2017
    Yarrow’s title confronts us with an uncomfortable paradox. While we all saw it coming, in the sense of arriving like a mob of drunken, unwanted guests—the racism, xenophobia, misogyny, chest-thumping nationalism tinged with white supremacy—most of us did not see it coming and were shocked by the election results. As the title poem has it: "We all saw it coming /the peat moss racists / the neonatal Nazis / ...the ratcheting down of sense." ...Yarrow’s poem twists away from the camouflage of “we” in the poem’s final lines: "I don’t mean we saw it coming // I mean I, I saw it coming / and did nothing." Many fine poems in this collection work in the language of grief and rage. Look at poems like “Behave Yourself” (he can’t) or “Go Unlovely Trump” (after Waller’s “Go, Lovely Rose’). In “Semi Tiresias,” a series of triplets describe portents of approaching debility or death: "I knew my mother would die by the weekend / when she declined to answer my questions /... More > about her parents or her youth." ...The personal suddenly shifts to the political in the final section: "I knew America would be a colony again / when it forsook consensus / for impasse." What makes this piece so bitter is the personal prophecies are so inevitable, marking, as they do, the devouring power of time over the human body and mind, while the political prophecy describes a failure that is unmoored from natural processes of decay; they are self-inflicted and unnecessary. And that may be why I took such comfort in my favorite poem in the collection, a brilliant response to Ludovico Carracci’s painting Body of Saint Sebastian Thrown into the Cloaca Maxima, which is on the collection’s cover, and, in a different way, in the text. The poem, “Ways of Seeing: Carracci,” describes the saint asleep or unconscious, “about to be/thrown into the great sewer of Rome,” and that after having been transformed into a pincushion of Roman arrows. But the painting’s secret, and the poem’s, involves rotating the image: "then he becomes beautifully / vertical, his dreaming body /like a sleeping bird floating / in warm, soft air // Then the closed fists and flexed / forearms of the executioners /are seen impotently attempting / to hold him down but nothing / human can prevent his rise." We can hope that defeat and humiliation, the emergence of all we find dangerous and repugnant about American nativism, can be transformed into and by a newly energized body politic. —Steve Klepetar in Galatea Resurrects< Less
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Product Details

Publisher
Locofo Chaps
Published
March 23, 2017
Language
English
Pages
26
Binding
Saddle-stitch Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
Weight
0.19 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
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