From the first stanza of the first poem through until the last couplet this collection bares itself body and soul to the reader daring them to claim they do not both feel intensely and try to hide those feelings.
This chapbook contains 21 poems that, superficially, are connected by thoughts of worthlessness and isolation.
The collection opens with the suicide images of My Sister Betsy and maintains the exploration of horror with the child neglect and substance abuse of Junk Baby. However, these poems are neither a report of a lives marginalised by an evil world nor tales of how mundane the darkness is. Revitalising the concepts of innocence and experience from Romanticism, the poems are filled with empathy for their subjects: the horrors are caused by the amorality of both extreme experience and conformity.
As a counterpoint to the self-created poisons of emotion, there are also insights into the pressure to conform. In Laugh of the Bees the reader is faced with society as the enemy of the unique and the exceptional, while His Furious Red paint a picture of people still following the rituals of etiquette when none of them benefit.
The collection also speaks of hope. The Weight of Letting Go and Belongings question whether the danger only exists if we believe it does; by resolving the paradox of fighting against the idea of conflict, can we live without our self-wrought armour?
Although the poems speak of the core of the human experience, they are woven tightly into modern life; mundane images of drying washing, fashionable clothes, and peeling potatoes form an all to relevant scaffolding for the insights.
Overall I enjoyed this collection. I would recommend it to anyone who does not accept the world as a tidy, plastic-packaged, utopia bastioned against a sea of failures. I would not recommend reading it cover to cover in a single sitting.
I received a free copy of this chapbook in exchange for a fair review.