24 February 2012

Scary, No Scary (or Return of the Poop Book)

I used to read books while I pooped. I read Leaves of Grass in its entirety, over the course of a two year period, on the toilet; the first thirty cantos of Pound's The Cantos (only a total asshole would read the whole collection); and an historical overview of visual collage, which was the last book I read under these circumstances, just to name a few.

But ever since May of 2011, my housing situation has been fluid and I haven't settled into a solid poop-and-read routine. Until now.

I'm not exactly sure how, but Zachary Schomburg's
Scary, No Scary ended up on the ledge of my bathtub, so I started re-reading the book while taking my morning "bathroom break." To my mind, it's a book of discovery and transformation, both of which are found in "New Kind of Light":
I move my hands
in these woods
to find her sex-parts.

We discover our sex-parts
make heat
and blue light.

We become outlines of ourselves—

long scratches
in the sky.

We have a daughter
who was never born.

She lives in the house
we never built,

But in this new light,
you can almost see
its tattered roof. (9)
Both the discoveries and transformations are fantastical, creating a dream-like aura. Many times, they deal with the natural world. Take the excerpted material very next poem "Your Limbs Will Be Torn Off In A Farm Accident," for instance:
Your limbs
will be torn off
in a farm accident.

Tree limbs
will grow in those places.


Soon you'll be
more tree
than person. (10)
Of course, it is not until the book's closing poem that the "You" of the poem, or the poem's speaker for that matter, understands that the transformation takes place. Moreover, the transformation only registers when the natural world informs us, so to speak: "if there is a shadow of a tree and no trees around / I am the tree" (58).

Certainly, these tropes can be viewed through the lens of an American neo-surrealism, which often seems to be the case with Schomburg's writing. But a different (and for that reason more productive) reading could be to filter Scary, No Scary through an eco-fabulist lens, wherein the poems convey extraordinary parables about humanities interaction with nature. Of course, because of the abundance of death within the collection, readers may wonder as to whether or not the relationship is parasitic or symbiotic. The answer may be a matter of personal interpretation, but one thing is clear: regardless of whether the interactions are cyclical self-regulating systems, or self-destructive mechanisms, we are told to approach them with courage, just as the speaker does: "You'd think I'd be scared / But I'm not scared" (79).


  1. I think you're eco-fabulous.

  2. You guys like Rilke?

  3. Only the early stuff.

  4. O man, I'm so super big into Rilke, especially the middle years.