The collection contains 10 poems seeking to capture the experience and effects of psychedelics; several of them are focused on LSD, with others based around other hallucinogens or a more general description of altered perceptions.
The work is dedicated to, among others, Allen Ginsberg and the influence of both his work and others in the Beat Movement is clear; however, the rhythms and words are fully modern so could equally be compared to the best of rap.
Each of the poems is in free verse. Although some of them have an underlying pattern, Walton is not afraid to leave the reader without structure. This lack of structure is paired with a similar freedom with spelling and grammar. For example:
Good ol LSD? mushrooM magIc? devil cacti?
volatile vrrmmmmm of a demoN vacuum
sucking the DuSt and dirt of reality
Lets trip INto the ultiMATE reality,
face flat. – Vvvviiiibbbbrrrraaaattttiiiioooonnnnssss, Jeremiah Walton
Initially this linguistic playfulness can seem merely an intellectual exercise but, over the course of each poem, builds into a powerful evocation of the power of drugs to erode normality and replace it with perception of hidden messages below the surface. I have not taken psychedelics, so cannot comment on whether the descriptions are accurate; however, it feels as if it could be real.
Both the subject and disregard for traditional poetics also limit the appeal. Whether taken individually with water or by the handful washed down with liquor, these poems pull the reader along on a challenging journey rather than providing a restful antidote to a tough day.
As with most collections of poetry some works seemed stronger than others. It read more like a talented new poet driven by passion and inspiration than a poet matured in their craft, and would lose its visceral edge to repetition if it were much longer. However some of this can be put down to mental fatigue; had I not been reading it to review I would have picked this up and put it down over the course of several nights.
Overall I enjoyed these poems and will definitely return to the collection again. I would recommend it to those who appreciate the use of language to challenge accepted perceptions.
To Your Health: Humanity’s Diagnosis by Jeremiah Walton (Davetopia)