For Dusie Kollektiv No. 5, BJ Love and Friedrich Kerksieck wrote the chapbook Fossil. While the full contents can be found online, purchasing the artifact is well worth the $10. Like everything Kerksiek produces under the banner of Small Fires Press, this collaborative chapbook is a well-crafted art-object that is a joy to look at and hold. As the back matter states:
The book is constructed from various handmade sheets pulled at the Lost Arch Paper Mill in Alabama or the front cover, Clearprint Vellum for the text, & Chipboard for the rear cover.Images & Bell MT fonts have been reproduced with photopolymer on a Vandercook No.4 Proof Press at the Small Fires Press Memphis studio.
Of course, even if you know what all that technical jargon means, it still doesn't do justice to the fine quality of the artifact. But buying a copy and pulling the lengthy accordion vellum will help in understanding the fine craftsmanship that went into its making.
As for the poems therein, Love and Kerksieck write mostly about dinosaurs, but, obviously, it's not just about dinosaurs; these are love poems as well. Take, for instance, the following lines from the opening poem "Lava! Lava! Lava!":
Let us set something in stone: Apology isan invention that is still a few years off& that is why I can never be sorry, butwhat I can tell you now is that, when yourfossil is found, I hope everyone will love itjust like I do & though I can never promiseanything this sweet, or even milkshake sweet,what I can promise is to hate every evolutionthat removes you further & further from me.
A lament to a fossilized lover about the trouble of evolution. Yes, it is humorous, but readers get the sense that it also is heartfelt. Later, in the poem "Rawr Rawr Rawr," the poets strike a more wholly sincere tone, albeit sandwiched between some lighter verse about dinosaurs, milk, and tar pits, when they write:
All history is according tocarbon, which is no morethe history of our own breath,that time when we sat, face-to-face,& just breathed through eachother's mouths. All I have ever wantedwas to give this some kind of name.
A touching moment to be sure, distilling passion, science, and longing into a remembrance when two lovers shared each other's breath and, in doing so, created a shared history in carbon: most definitely a Whitmanesque concept.
I'd like to close with what I believe is the strongest poem from start to finish. It's titled "The Thing About Dinosaurs Is That They Only Get Famous After They Die" and reads:
You keep telling me it's only a photocopy
of a dinosaur, that his teeth aren't scaryrather, they're duplicates, & duplicatesof duplicates at that, that that is no morescary than any great waste of ink, thatthe fear of dinosaurs is based on the priceof toner alone, but you can't make thosecavities any less real, I think, not the factthat every hole in his collated head isan exact, though concaved, reproductionof my arms, my legs, my purple lungs&, as I've always said, if I'm going to bedigested, I prefer it come with the dignitythat a stomach offers & not the slowdisgrace of being worn away by tongue& spit, which isn't digestion at all, no,it's more like recycling, that is, if recyclingwas just tubs stuffed with nightmares &breaking up bags teeming with rats, ormaybe the neighbor boy who screamslike rats, & this death is horrible, & thisdeath is scary, & this death has alreadybeen scanned into the imaging unit, &if you leave, this dinosaur will surely eat me,& then he'll put on my glasses, & wearall my t-shirts, & kiss you in that one placethat only I get to kiss you, & he'll becomean excellent copy of me, & you will neverbe the wiser, that is, until he gargles, &rather than gargling what you will hear is me,the actual me, complaining about the cramped& damp conditions, about the loss of skin,about how I miss you most of the time, butespecially at night when I can still hear yousnore, yeah, that's when I'd miss you the most.