God Breaketh Not
All Men's Hearts Alike
New & Later Collected Poems
(Seven Stories Press)Five years ago we reviewed New and Selected Poems by Stanley Moss. We praised him for refusing to be one of those stuffed shirts from the poetry-is-good-for-you versification pot. We noted that he had written songs of praise addressed to Snot, Vomit ... and to Adam and Eve who, we find out have --- through extensive DNA studies --- been identified as not only the world's first couple, but the world's first black couple. The Obama and Michelle of the paradise set, as it were.
In other words, the father and the mother of us all (and as well, father and mother to Mormons, born-again Christians, and all those ninnies in Arizona who get jumpy about immigrants because of their darker skin) are revealed to be no different than you or me:
Adam and Eve were black,
Cain and Abel black,
Somewhere there was
a white man in the wood pile.
For those of us who feast on poetry, we could never be averse to that which speaks of scrofula, leprosy, whores, goiters, grubs --- even advises us, "In the house of the hangman,"
do not talk of rope,
or use death, half death,
little death; the victim
always hangs himself,
trap sprung, tongue ripped
like love in the house.
And then there is his rapt sensuality. Moss can even see lust in the clouds,
Working class clouds are living together
above the potato fields, tall white beauties
humping above the trees, burying their faces
in each other, clouds with darker thighs,
rolling across the Atlantic.
§ § §
This newest book is a pleasure-palace for those who like their poetry with lotsa juice. Almost 300 poems, arranged by the author in reverse order, so you can compare the recent ("The corpse wrapped in sanitary paper / is ready to be flushed down a large commode,") with the old ("The turtles are out, / loners on the road listening for mud, / old people looking for money.")
In our review from back then, we suggested that the present Moss change his name so that casual poetasters (me!) would not confuse him with another Moss, named Howard ... "a knucklehead," as we reported, "who ran the New Yorker's poetry stool for more than forty years, whose writing was pure blancmange, who used his bully pulpit to publish his own verse endlessly, and
as chief bully --- stiffed poets who were trying to drag American poetry into the 20th Century, the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Pete Winslow, Kenneth Rexroth, T. F. Bierly.
"He was a Moss," we concluded, "whose name was prophetically eponymous."
But this other Moss is our main man, and we offer up this book with its funny and often scandalous verses, some of which may well make those of the stuffy New Yorker set wilt and sniff ... this particular Moss being the genuine article, one who can write,
Dreams of mass murder have only begun:
daydreams and wet dreams.
But where is the pastry?
Where are the poems?
Coming, coming, the children sing.
Coming, coming.--- A. W. Allworthy