Fancy Beasts

Alex Lemon, Author . Milkweed $16 (103p) ISBN 978-157131-443-7

Full of raw energy, up-to-date in its slang and its jump cuts, effervescent with the playfulness and sometimes the angers of youth, the third collection from Lemon (Hallelujah Blackout ) conveys a likable, outsized personality; it should also work well in tandem with the Texas-based poet's forthcoming memoir, Happy (Scribner, 2010), which describes his fast descent and striking recovery, as a young adult, from shocking and sudden brain injury. “Saying yes to everything/ Does not mean you need// To grunt at each person/ Who says hello”: so begins a poem called “We Could Boom Boom,” sounding at once a joke and a warning. “Let me be your guiding fright, your/ Highway to the comfort zone,” another poem requests; around that invitation Lemon arranges both a love poem and a depiction of suicide. Champions will praise the verve that lets the poet imagine himself “In the presence/ Of dynamite./ Deserving of/ Everything.” The strikingly terse sequence entitled only “!!” makes a welcome, if sometimes frightening, change of pace. It also alludes, apparently, to his brain injury: “The fun park inside” (that is, inside his skull) “Is being/ Renovated.// Bellwether./ Blackened eyes.” But such gravities are exceptions: delights, and shocks, are the rule. Like Tony Hoagland, Lemon is often self-conscious about the volatilities his poems convey, about their almost giddy tonalities, but he will not apologize for himself: adult life is a scary gift, a fast trip, a set of close encounters with “this fizzing pier life.” (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/21/2009
Release date: 03/01/2010
Open Ebook - 115 pages - 978-1-57131-806-0
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