cover image Post Traumatic Hood Disorder

Post Traumatic Hood Disorder

David Tomas Martinez. Sarabande, $15.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-946448-09-5

Martinez follows his acclaimed debut, Hustle, with a series of lyrical riffs on American culture that juxtapose literary erudition and swaggering vernacular. Though his canonical touchstones include Robert Frost and Countee Cullen, the ivory tower Martinez constructs is a playfully phallic one, where “to think in grunts and finger points,/ admittedly, is not beyond me.” Self-implicating and parodic of masculine paradigms, these poems reveal an ear honed on poetic tradition and hip-hop (“About suffering they were never wrong,/ the old rappers”) and explore intersections of identity with strikingly musical results: “in this/ skin i am/ more wit/ than man/ and to/ white/ men i/ am no/ whitman.” Martinez largely avoids sweeping rhetorical generalities in his visions of social change; rather, history is embodied in the immediate and personal, as when he writes, “What’s in the attic/ but a vacuum-packed/ subconscious, a few// moldy berries of memory,/ a few buried Members Only/ jackets.” To his sonic dexterity and associative collage Martinez adds a dash of humor tempered by inventive precision: “The late-afternoon light entered/ the living room through the barred/ windows like a boxer through ropes.” Martinez understands that change is microcosmic—that “when// most folks say they want to change the world/ they mean their own.” (Mar.)