a child walks in the dark – poems – Darren C. Demaree

a child walks in the dark / poems, Darren C. Demaree / Small Harbor, 2021

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Holy with intention, Darren C. Demaree’s a child walks in the dark is a non-performative piece of displayed belief and an unbroken speaking of the telling world. Poems here are remnant doings, and each month is a faith. Demaree tells a son, tells a daughter, tells them both, and in the saying, another thing is built inside the thing built to fall. Memory has to start somewhere, myth is a myth, and the children are long. The verse here is gentle, protected by wonder and worry and wager, but it is not safe. In one breath, there is blueprint, and in that same breath, there is something unsold from the museum of cold weather that must be described correctly in order to be seen by both the young and by the architect of their forgetting.

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reflection by Barton Smock

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book info is HERE

Eye, Apocalypse – poems – Erik Fuhrer

Eye, Apocalypse / poems, Erik Fuhrer / Spuyten Duyvil 2021

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These last few years have had, for me, many endings. I have lost beginnings to both second and third comings. Verse has been something I can’t see, unless placed in front of me. And of late I feel I may have overstayed, with others, our finale. But whatever witness may have passed, I have been blessed with the chance to sightsee within the without of Erik Fuhrer’s Eye, Apocalypse. I don’t know how much time any apocalypse has left, but am glad for the brave worrying that Fuhrer does over each. The missing, the coded, the unbidden. The apocalypse that can’t be in two places at once. The apocalypse with too long of a name. Prophecy itself is an erasure, and Fuhrer is a poet whose lyric narrates the longings of the foreseen and embeds repetition in a singular song of ecclesiastic mutations both soundlessly dense and locally clear. Through the affair, the adoration, the becoming, and the memorial, this work finds nest eggs in the lowercase book of revelation, allows distance to be terrified of its next self, and words the world into something said.

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reflection by Barton Smock

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book is HERE

OUTGOING VESSEL ~ Ursula Andkjær Olsen, translated by Katrine Øgaard Jensen

OUTGOING VESSEL, by Ursula Andkjær Olsen / translated by Katrine Øgaard Jensen / Action Books, 2021

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Proof, hosanna, proof. Oh, my discarded bits of avoidance. Is ghost still held as a breath in a being that cannot materialize until it’s misplaced by our up and coming carrier? I think it’s all there, all here, in the anti-instructional humbleharm and worldless afterlife of Ursula Andkjær Olsen’s Outgoing Vessel. So bare and terrifying, so saturated and self-afflicted. I can’t say what the verse here is cleaning, nor what the competing repetitions are being fed by, but it moves me to condone guilt and permit that I’m the youngest thing about myself. These are poetics that reject the reimagining of the under-imagined and instead chant themselves through songdoors might they create origins to be upheld by the pregnant deceivers of elevation. I might not have it right. What if renewal came first? Is there a machine built by grief that manufactures alienation? Crossed-over and crossed-out, this is scarily disappeared and necessary stuff.

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reflection by Barton Smock

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book is here and here

BONE HOUSE – stories – K-Ming Chang

BONE HOUSE / stories, K-Ming Chang, Bull City Press 2021

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K-Ming Chang’s Bone House is a thing set down and a thing lifted, a thing out of place yet also the thing that is already an only belonging, that pulls a room from another room. If one feels named after the name they were given, this is why. Chang’s language seems both imbued and evacuated, ghosted and gathered. The story itself, the stories themselves: is and are. I don’t know. As for the story in these, our imperceptible ask: it is worded the way we’ve wished it told. The survived unshareable, the return that gives longing an end date, the romance that pearls possession from a cloned twin. And still this all becomes the first we’ve heard of it, a retelling of the offhandedly internal.

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reflection by Barton Smock

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book is here

LIGHT-UP SWAN – poems – Tom Snarsky

LIGHT-UP SWAN
poems, Tom Snarsky
Ornithopter Press, 2021

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Oh, here we are. So far from our own writing. Here, again, thinking there is little left beyond yesterday's afterglow, beneath tomorrow's aftermath. I always believe I'm done with it, of course. And then, oh. Here. We. Are. Tipsy, and weeks into listening to a soundtrack no one wrote for a nightlight while opening and re-opening Tom Snarsky's collection Light-Up Swan. And there is hope in the hope that fate might finally volunteer. That going missing will go missing not as ordered by absence but instead as a goodwill gesture given to a presence that needs nothing in return yet desires a return on our nothing. And is it ours? I don't know. What I can speak to is how quickly this reflection of mine reappeared but only because it believed it had vanished. I'm here for that kind of belief, for the kind of work that starts sometimes, as Snarsky does, with the line This poem happens in an actual lake. I'm here to feel...far. Something factual: The first poem here is called The Star-Field Paintings and it is very beautiful and hard to move on, or to be away, from. How are there poems after it? There might not be, yet I could speak on them, and have been, and haven't heard a thing for weeks.  

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reflection by Barton Smock

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book is here

soft-focus slaughterhouse – poems – Dylan Krieger

soft-focus slaughterhouse
poems, Dylan Krieger
11:11 Press, 2021

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With a punk patience for the previously prophetic, poet Dylan Krieger, in soft-focus slaughterhouse, predicts with the grey comedy of deep presence what pain is losing to our collectively photographic memory of being invasively untouched. This is a verse the closes distance with the body actual, a verse that does not suffer suffering, a verse somewhat for the uncrucified astronaut indebted to imagery but really and wholly for those who can remain nostalgic for prognosis while knowing how sick it is to leave one’s affliction to another. This is a poetry of essential saying, of wordplay and wordwork, and language needs to catch up.

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reflection by Barton Smock

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book is here

through a small ghost – poems – Chelsea Dingman

through a small ghost
poems, Chelsea Dingman
The University of Georgia Press, 2020

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Chelsea Dingman is a poet who makes you feel as if you’ve entered the dream a little early. Otherness is something that happens to others, and pain hurts in two places at once. In through a small ghost, it is this meditative displacement that allows the work to both worship and curse the prolonged destiny of its sudden and devastating inheritance. Be it a projected disappearance or a vanishing root, Dingman identifies first the caller of the form that keeps us from so many shapes, and then the unreal form itself. As any breathing in this held verse might poke a hole in the haunting and send a smoke ring to show the fog how its wheels have come off, the poems keep their witness on the made from and made by, achieving not only something to be seen, but also something protected from watching. And in this protection are many spiritually assertive mercies, elegant and ruinous, gifts from reversal of which the most healing might be that when a thing goes, loss doesn’t always get there first.

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reflection by Barton Smock

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book is here

Toxicon And Arachne – poems – Joyelle McSweeney

Toxicon And Arachne
poems, Joyelle McSweeney
Nightboat Books, 2020

Of course, being a weak writer, I want to say rare. I want to say rare in as few words as possible in the direction of Joyelle McSweeney’s Toxicon And Arachne. Somewhere two toothaches are perhaps reunited. Somewhere one is unpinned from the world while feeling in the dark for a donkey born without a tail. I also want to say playful, but no. Sadness loses all its money to sorrow and there is a jovial genius to the trauma of wordplay. I think what McSweeney does is done with what I’ll call, in my lack, the endangered available. Mouth of a gift hearse. Erasure’s only prediction. From such given, McSweeney recreates addendum without precedent. Think of what one hasn’t read, that is being written, and how briefly it will exist unwitnessed. And how fast the work of de-witness. And how suddenly we’re having the dream that just recently we lied about having. I love this work for its slowness, for the uninfluenced offhand of its disruptive healing. Here is a line from McSweeney’s poem PT Cruiser: ‘That’s like, harmonic. Monstrous.’ I am injected, I guess, to vaccinate the new you. Loss has two syllables: loss, comma, loss. The verse of Toxicon and Arachne lives in the present and in the present it took.

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reflection by Barton Smock

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book is here

first exits

For submissions, [isacoustic*] is on an indefinite hiatus.

The one person I am is not always the right.

Reflections on the works of others will continue.

Be healthy, or keep others.

-Barton

person Meghan Sterling, two poems

Meghan Sterling lives in Portland, Maine. Her poetry has been published in Rattle, Glass, Sky Island Journal, Cider House Press and others. She is a Hewnoaks Artist Colony Resident in 2019 and 2021. Her first full-length collection is forthcoming from Terrapin Books in 2021. Read her work at meghansterling.com

~*~

Apology After the Fire

Worn down, the sea rolls beyond sight,

sand stretches the way a shadow is cast
from rock. The sun an unwanted heat.

We have grown our flowers in the shade of the razed forests,
our faces wrapped in gauze, our hands cupping the water

we save from the occasional rain and muddy stream.
How did we arrive here?

My daughter throws her scraps to the dogs
that wander along the highways that once were rivers

that once threaded themselves
through a softening of green.

My daughter knows the meagerness of water,
our constant searching.

But winds, fires, mud, rocks
are in abundance where once there was

grass, bud, butterfly.
I want life to bloom around her the way she blooms

and for her to know the quiet of leaves,
the hum of growing things,

these few seeds I nudge into flower as apology.

~*~

Camera Lucida

We were in love then. Early winter,
the alleys like paper scraps of snow.
Seeking each venue as if the next reading
could deliver salvation.
I wrote on scraps,
refusing to show the others,
letting those scraps grow damp between fingers,
pushing them against the seams of satin pocket liners.
In the alleys, we smoked Marlboros,
shaking in our acrylic gloves, in coats with too-short arms.
We quoted Kafka, pretended we had read everything.
You carried a small suitcase with journals, pencils,
sharpeners, a protractor—you wore your eccentricity
as an accessory. Without money for meals, we ate at bodegas,
saved our pennies for museums, for jazz.
You stole your books from the Strand.
We went for long walks in Park Slope,
looking into windows lit with abundance,
dreaming of living better than
boxes on the stairwell, found furniture.
Everything smelling of last week’s cooking.
At night, we huddled on the mattress,
read passages from Barthes’ Camera Lucida,
shared joints rolled from the cheapest shake.
But poverty wore, frayed like our sleeves.
You stayed out later, I started reading English novels.
Your father offered you a salary
to study business, and when spring came,
you tossed your suitcase out the window
into the muddy alley, your papers soaring
like white birds.

~*~