08 February 2012

Fossil

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 is
an invention that is still a few years off

& that is why I can never be sorry, but
what I can tell you now is that, when your

fossil is found, I hope everyone will love it
just like I do & though I can never promise

anything this sweet, or even milkshake sweet,
what I can promise is to hate every evolution

that 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 to
carbon, which is no more
the history of our own breath,
that time when we sat, face-to-face,
& just breathed through each
other's mouths. All I have ever wanted
was 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 scary
rather, they're duplicates, & duplicates
of duplicates at that, that that is no more
scary than any great waste of ink, that
the fear of dinosaurs is based on the price
of toner alone, but you can't make those
cavities any less real, I think, not the fact
that every hole in his collated head is
an exact, though concaved, reproduction
of my arms, my legs, my purple lungs
&, as I've always said, if I'm going to be
digested, I prefer it come with the dignity
that a stomach offers & not the slow
disgrace of being worn away by tongue
& spit, which isn't digestion at all, no,
it's more like recycling, that is, if recycling
was just tubs stuffed with nightmares &
breaking up bags teeming with rats, or
maybe the neighbor boy who screams
like rats, & this death is horrible, & this
death is scary, & this death has already
been scanned into the imaging unit, &
if you leave, this dinosaur will surely eat me,
& then he'll put on my glasses, & wear
all my t-shirts, & kiss you in that one place
that only I get to kiss you, & he'll become
an excellent copy of me, & you will never
be 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, but
especially at night when I can still hear you
snore, yeah, that's when I'd miss you the most.

3 comments:

  1. That poem is great. I have bought this via the PayPal. Tanks for the heads up.

    I wonder what Karl Malone is doing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dick Laurent is dead...and so is Karl Malone!

    ReplyDelete