Tod Marshall. Canarium (SPD, dist.), $14 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-0-9849471-5-7
Like a modern-day Rimbaud, Marshall (The Tangled Line) wants to wake up the language and sneak in a throttle or two while the alarm's going off. "Sure ‘nuff," he writes, "I'm the leak, the inside Intel/ the narc and the mole." Marshall's weariness and ennui offer both beauty and laughter, and the obituaries that pile up in his poems become all the more harrowing for his refusal to use poetry as a place to perform grief. With each new death (and Marshall delivers them with a broadcaster's surgical remove), the tension and anxiety in his sonnets increases but never explodes, amounting to a staggering commentary on the absurdity and mundanity of human death in everyday life. After an aunt's ashes are scattered, an uncle fails at tenderness: "We kept the brass urn, though, for you all." After watching a dead deer float down a river, Marshall realizes, "Sometimes we say death when what we mean is home." And when a friend says "carpe fuckin' diem" and jokes about jumping off a bridge, "sure enough, outed by his mom, he did." Beneath this canopy of existential numbness, Marshall's language ricochets and remains agile, deepening the complexity and impact of the book by dint of how much he delights in the beauty of English. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 05/04/2015
Release date: 12/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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