cover image Soft Launch

Soft Launch

Aaron Belz. Persea, $15.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-89255-502-4

In the comic fourth book from Belz (Glitter Bomb), the poet acutely observes his fellow humans—especially millennials—and uses these observations to weave text-speak and startup jargon into rich moments that feel entirely human. In a poem on rationality and irrationality, the speaker reflects “I guess one might file this/ under the dreaded “you do// you, boo,” but I’d rather/ think of it as ontological,/ à la Popeye’s I am what I am/ followed by the caveat/ and that’s all that I am.” Absurdist monologues appear alongside yarns of failed courtship, and shaggy-dog humor for the internet-meme generation. In “A Marketer’s Prayer,” the speaker muses: “Lord, let me deliver key capabilities/ but not within one segment:/ across the entire demographic.” While much of the humor in this collection lands, the poems occasionally get lost in their own cleverness or miss moments of potential deeper reflection. Perhaps that’s also part of Belz’s covert critique: that most individuals are consumed with their own nonsense and collectively working toward the same kind of anticlimax that the book, on occasion, confers. (Sept.)