New Poetry

Clare Pollard,

(Pen & Ink Press
University of East Anglia
It's all here. What the I Ching calls "Youthful Folly." The hopes and dreams of our new millennium.

Suicide. Paranoia. Junk mail. Giving head. Chubby Chasers. Cunnilingus. "Fingering yourself." Meditation. "Feminism is dead." "This willingness to be hurt."

"Shopliftin' mirrors." "Brokers of dark and shady deeds." And killing puppies,

    The butt stock alone was good
    to blunt the heads of pups;
    bitches took a single shot.

Joe Dunthorne wants us to know, in sonnet form no less, about the way he makes love:

    There is something of the short-order chef
    in the way I make love.
    I don't believe in tenderness above
    and beyond the call of duty. Take Stef,

    a sweet girl; we started flirting
    in this overpriced bar
    and soon enough I took her back to my car
    where I came on her belly as thought squirting

    mayo on a bap.

Mayo. I guess that's mayonnaise. And bap? My ancient Webster's Fifth couldn't figure it out. Google tries to tell me that it is "The British Association for Psychopharmacology " but I'm not so sure that that is what the poet had in mind. Not with mayo.

Later, Dunthorne takes us off to Auschwitz, where he orders "breaded pork." Get it? Pork at Auschwitz. It is, he informs us, only "average:"

    I am appalled that they charge
    for a mayonnaise sachet.

My Webster's can handle this one. From the fifteenth century French, "sac." It's a little bag. Of mayonnaise. Which seems to have some hold over the poet. A symbol for him of his form of tenderness above the call of duty. And, we presume, for general cheapness.

The eponymous Hamish Ironside wants us to know he talks to himself about prospective parenthood, "The absent father might well be me."

    I mutter to myself as a fleck of saliva
    dots my hand like a frog on the rock.

And the mother?

    ...your blood
    Turned to milky pink, caking
    hair to skin as we fall asleep
    and dream the child we want to have
    but won't.

Thank god for small favors, we think.

You can usually tell what an editor likes by a page count. Of the nineteen poets represented here, one, "Cheryl B." wins, with thirteen pages of her own. And (flaring our nostrils) I suspect we would agree, even if it is more of the usual: "dirty toilets," "caked-on dust through cutoff straws into our noses," abortions, sarcasm, pet snakes. You are sitting next to someone on a couch and "you are both eaten by flames." At least we know why Cheryl only gives us half a name.

At the same time, there is a touch of petulant realization:

    I stopped drinking when I woke up one day with a man I didn't not know, snoring next to me on the bed
    I stopped partying when I didn't want to wake up anymore...

So this is 2006, and the kids are doing Their Thing, no? Maybe. But what the hell ever happened to "glory be to god for dappled things?" And "In a lande / Upon an hill of flours?" And "What a piece of work is man?" Are they gone forever?

--- Lolita Lark
Go to another poem by
Cheryl B.

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