cover image Radioapocrypha


B.K. Fischer. Mad Creek, $16.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-8142-5464-6

Fischer (St. Rage’s Vault) remixes Scripture with 1980s nostalgia in a smart novella-in-verse that impressively balances high- and low-brow elements. The gestures towards the gospels start off small, with Fischer choosing to worldbuild in such cheekily titled poems as “Our Lady of the Subdivision” and “Parable of the Cheerleader.” This 1980s suburban landscape features bored high schoolers who shoplift and keep piercing guns in their cars. The collection’s protagonist is Maren, a Mary Magdalene figure looking back at her teen years through the lens of adulthood: “I was Keds, leggings, over-sized cable knits,/ Big Hair up-bangs.” Maren makes for a perceptive witness and chronicler in the poems she narrates. The others are rapid-fire monologues dished out by Callahan, a 33-year-old teacher, and Jesus figure to a garage band of teen boys. Callahan is both “a lover and a healer” and “a real son of a bitch,” including in his sexual relationship with Maren. Fischer handles the inherent power imbalance of this dynamic with wit, grace, and a complex yearning: “Each year my faith decays by half, then half again./ In this way it is infinite.” Swapping the crucifixion for a ghastly car crash, Fischer produces a work as smart, satisfying, and nuanced in its climax as it is as a whole. [em](Feb.) [/em]