Scarecrow

Robert Fernandez. Wesleyan Univ., $24.95 (80p) ISBN 978-0-8195-7650-7
Fernandez (Pink Reef) imbues his dark third collection with omens, mortality panic, and a Rimbaud-esque frenzied bleakness, punctuating the work with moments of desperate hope. Packing poems with Gothic details that produce a visceral reaction, he impels readers to "Crack dread's/ red egg on/ the burning rock" and "Drain that bourbon/ to the red, to the dre-/ gs of silt" as Fernandez pivots between sinister and debauched revelry, "portents dissolving like fat." The landscape is polluted and populated by sinister figures, "love's ghouls," and wolves with "bright Prussias of hazel eyes." The speaker pines and resigns in turn, occasionally becoming self-pitying but always artfully aware. "I cultivate a certain dying," Fernandez writes, "I comb it/ with exceeding carefulness." These anxieties are neither feigned nor entirely intangible; they veer into the specific with pleas to "Help us not become wards of the state." The work also avoids becoming self-involved, with readers eagerly encouraged to participate: "what's your burden," the speaker needles, "what makes your stomach a withery/ pit?" Fernandez inventively toys with form, using line breaks to enhance the emotional depth of a moment ("mal-/ aise ma-/ laise m-/ a-l-a-i-s-e"), but his dexterity is best displayed in creating and sustaining a mood of ardent desperation heightened by reverent pleas for perseverance—a continuing on "through the night,/ through morning,/ again again again." (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/2016
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 88 pages - 978-0-8195-7651-4
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