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Review by David McLean

66 pages
Blue Room Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9843006-1-7

The Race

We run on empty stomachs in cardboard shoes,
We carry damaged flags to honor the veterans of imaginary wars.

We pace ourselves to outlast our children's children.
Our estimated time of arrival is yesterday.
(p. 9)

This poem, quoted in its entirety, gives a good feel for this full length poetry collection by poet and editor Craig Sernotti. The poem is measured, articulate and inspires to thought. Sernotti's voice is cynical and invigorating, but so are others. The difference here is that Sernotti uses striking imagery and pop culture references with great expertise and explores his own psyche very convincingly, all in a style that most underground writers don't pull off.

There are the obligatory references to porn, crime, and alcohol, but the focus is on ennui, despair, and a cautious pleasure, an amusement.

I ask to hold
him & when
Noah is in my arms
for the first time
he scrunches
his face
& lets out the
wettest fart.

Sounds like
needs a
my friend's
wife says.
I say,
can I
a shirt
(from Noah pp43f)

The poems here are enormously well-composed, raw and real. The book feels genuine and is marvelously ordered, it flows. The message is that life sucks, but things happen while you live it that entertain you. It can be depressing, as in


I'm used to disappointment.
After the credits end
& Skeletor pops his head
out of the water he insists
he'll be back.
But he isn't.
(from Three Kinds of Sadness p. 50)

But it can be fun too

Old Chuck

I've got a
million stories
& only
six months
to live,
Old Chuck said.
The dog that
twenty bucks
in nickels.
The Mexican
with the
biggest dick
I've ever seen
before or
Swimming with
retarded sharks.
Hell, get us
another round
& maybe
I'll tell you
about the girl
who wanted
to fuck her
(p. 50)

The message, that life is not perfect but sometimes entertaining, is scarcely new, but it's very well presented here. A recommended read for anybody into post-Bukowski underground poetry.