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Archive for September 12th, 2011

Review By Shawn Misener

“Mohawk Sideburn Attachment Kit”

caterpillars
look great on you,
I said—
caterpillars
are the new butterfly

don’t be an idiot
she said—
as if she’d
already begun
to build her cocoon

“Is There Life on Mars?”

nothing has seen me this way in years,
the bartender said—
he tried on his brand new shirt-wig
it suits me, he said
he was right; it did

a hot pink influence waltzed
up and down my brainstem
it couldn’t be the newsboy;
I’d remember him,
I thought

what if what I thought was me
was never really me at all,
& the real me was currently
watching this me
from some planet far,

far away
oh my goodness,
I said—
I think I’m in love

Whether or not we want to admit it, there is a movement happening in the small press, and that movement has been fueled and underwritten by the phenomenon of online publishing. This movement is saturated with chapbooks by authors whose work can be easily accessed by a simple Google search. I typed in my own name and found over fifty different poems on just the first ten pages of results (alongside the other internet-famous Shawn Miseners, one who has his own show at BowhunterPlanet.com, the other a professional disc golfer). A search for David Tomaloff yields a similar harvest: Dozens of poems published at dozens of webzines.

I’ve been familiar with his work for a while now, but all of my previous readings didn’t quell my enthusiasm after storming through the seventeen short poems included in his new chapbook A Soft That Touches Down & Removes Itself (NAP Magazine & Books, 2011). These poems are special, and they seem to be a significant shift from Tomaloff’s excessively abstract and dense work of the past. These poems are more accessible, with an easy flow and a soft touch that is both unexpected and incredibly compassionate.

What’s most impressive is that Tomaloff seems to have written these poems as a series, yet they never fall into repetition and bored sentimentality, despite their focus on a dialogue between himself and a mysterious woman. Each poem is short (between three and six stanzas) and is presented as a “he said/ she said’ type of banter. This formula never gets old, and in fact by the end I was hoping for more. Tomaloff’s choice of words and thoughtful economy of lines is amazingly effective and appealing.

These poems are far from an homage to romantic cheese. They are brief excursions into moments of time between two people whose world is marked by enigmatic surrealism. There is magic in nearly every stanza. These are my personal favorite types of poems, real humans acting in fairly real ways, cushioned by a universe full of magic and subconscious imagery. They read like the author rolled out of bed and typed his dreams onto the page while they were still fresh on his electric brain.

If the two poems above this review are appealing to you, I highly recommend this book. It’s the most solid and cohesive chap I’ve read in the past couple of years, full of strange beauty and effective word choice. Highly recommended.

CLUTCHING AT STRAWS ILLUMINATED PROBOSCIS RATING: 8.5 straws out of 10

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