cover image From the Author’s Private Collection

From the Author’s Private Collection

Eric Amling. Birds LLC. (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (98p) ISBN 978-0-9914298-3-7

“I’m dressed like a Jamestown cannibal/ In a city of mistake babies with e-cash,” writes Amling in an astute and challenging debut collection that’s both deeply poignant and darkly humorous. Like a deadpan oracle or font of offbeat wisdom you didn’t know you needed to know, Amling acts as a guide through the ersatz Epicureanism of contemporary America, where “freedom still remains monetary.” He opens with a brief series poems that are composed of cuts and outtakes—“Like a polygraph of a satellite”—that serves as a junkyard ars poetica. A visual artist adept in the medium of collage, he expresses these poems as social critique delivered through a signal scrambler. But his critique often extends to the practice of making art itself: “I know many people living lives of artistic practice/ that cannot take care of themselves,/ and not out of paraplegic circumstance.// Art has not refined them.” Reading through “Ill Estates,” “Rare and Special Interests,” and “Liquid Assets,” one encounters characteristically playful statements such as “It is not so hard/ To accept meaninglessness/ Acceptance is very meaningful.” Amling has designed a gallery installation of poetry that one returns to for the pleasure of its unsolvable mysteries, “A collection of space/ That I curate/ Where I forgive myself.” [em](July) [/em]