cover image Play for Time

Play for Time

Paula Mendoza. Gaudy Boy, $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-9828142-7-7

In this agile debut, Mendoza flits from sex to violence to loneliness and longing, weaving a tapestry of emotion. Often, the poems are built on imaginative premises. In “Behind the Shelf,” a “tall man” keeps containers of blood “catalogued by the breath which shimmered or seethed, by what press of flesh effervesced these shining viscosities.” These specimens are from “the first time you fell in love,” for example, or “when you hated your mother.” The speaker of several pieces is a “femme-dom” with intertwined plans of seduction and destruction. Elsewhere, Mendoza references other art forms, describing scenes from imagined movies as though she were the director (“Blurred at first, the woman sharpens as she walks toward us”). In “Making New Friends,” she admits, “I think of a joke and devise contexts to precipitate my telling this joke. I think of the person I will tell it to...Every day entire conversations play in my head.” Mendoza’s inventive skill with language is often remarkable (“some mornings abacus and other nights veruschka in the bed on fire :: tinder even if shivered leafless :: forsythia for instance”) though this same skill occasionally borders on the nonsensical or cute (“Your episteme is my ontology”). A clever wordsmith with a canny perception of the layers of human emotion, Mendoza is a poet to watch. (May)