ATM

Christopher Salerno. Georgetown Review (SPD, dist.), $11 trade paper (68p) ISBN 978-0-615-90617-1
Salerno (AORTA) delivers a third collection where a kind of contemporary transcendentalism collides with economic pragmatism, where the mundane is made mystifying and the practical becomes poetic. Throughout, the banking transaction—and by extension the notion of value—becomes a means to explore the capability of language, foregrounding the tension between the abstract self and his tangible worth. At its most affecting, a paradoxically uncritical voice emerges from the corporatized dystopia he depicts. In "11:12 ǀ 9/22/12 ǀ WTHDRWL" for instance, "There is something gentle/ about the daisy chain// of white receipts/ the ATM will feed the world." Elsewhere, "Measurement, Inc.," places the reader into an anonymous office tower, where "In my cubicle dream there/ are something like a dozen Tony/ Hawks flying over me and/ hitting the mirrored windowglass." Adulthood and its ennui become a desperate and inadequate reflection of childhood, a nightmare where "Even birds outside/ incorporate on the ground." Underlying many of these poems is the sense that, in a country defined by dollar signs and manufactured boom and bust cycles, one lives in danger of being unable to see beauty or even humanity: "I walk in// the enormity" Salerno writes at the end of "Swear Jar," "I drop one shoulder/ like a zombie. I'm down, again, about money." (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/28/2014
Release date: 03/01/2014
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