Scavenge. Robin Becker Chapbook Series, Number 4. Co-winner of the 2009 Robin Becker Chapbook Prize, selected by guest judge Ruth L. Schwartz:
“This poet’s voice captivated me immediately, and never disappointed. The chapbook has a keen, haunting, embracing vision, an at-times startlingly brilliant use of language (‘as though frenzy were a suture’), and an ironic and observant wit. . . These are the poems of a writer who is able to begin a poem titled ‘Earthly Delights’ with this arresting first line:
‘It’s not all vomiting.’
Indeed it isn’t, as these poems make clear. There is much, much more. Sex is here, of course, and death, and many other things both beautiful and terrible at once; a snake that got shot, for instance, is described as ‘matte: dark as raisin, with random creamy scales,’ then recalled to have ‘raised itself and flashed its dove-white mouth’ in the act of dying. These are poems that can help you see and love and mourn the world anew–because of how ‘everything’s covered / in the remains of labor and want,’ because of ‘that splash of ejaculate / in your mustache shining / like the last gasp of a starry night.’ Perhaps the strongest recommendation I can offer is this: you will know more and feel more after finishing these poems than you did when you began. You will be at least slightly larger, more capacious.”
Cover design by Kari Larsen.
Published: February 15, 2010 [125 copies]
Second printing: June, 2010 [100 copies]
Third printing: June, 2011 [100 copies]
RJ Gibson is a student in poetry in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. In 2008 he was a Poetry Fellow in the Lambda Literary Foundation’s New & Emerging Writers Retreat. His work has appeared in Knockout, OCHO, BLOOM, qaartsiluni, Ganymede, Six Sentences, and the anthology My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them. He lives and works in West Virginia.
Go outside, root through the garbage and do it:
take the oxidized springs of the burned mattress,
craft yourself a slave bracelet; sweep the dead
ladybirds off the sills, thread them
on some used floss to make a watch fob.
Sure, your nails will get dirty, you’ll wake up with coffee
grounds crusted to your shin, burrs in your sideburns.
You’ll need a tetanus shot, slicing your palm on that soup can lid.
Take thirty-three rolls of pennies and stack them for your spine.
When you go to your younger cousin’s funeral,
steal all eight of the giant bronze pompon chrysanthemums
off the casket and give them to your mother.
After the last mourner is gone from the grave-site,
go back and get the ivory tea roses. Take the cloudy
heart of an ice cube, make it your eye. Fashion
yourself a black blazer from off-brand trash bags,
whipstitch a lining from tomato stained copies of the New York
Times. Take the phosphorescent glow your high-beams brought
to the dead doe’s eyes, make it your nightlight. Sample the snap
of the rat trap, loop it, make it the beat of your heart.
poems online by RJ Gibson:
- RJ’s interview of Michael Walsh, author of The Dirt Riddles, at Lambda Literary online
- Grady Harp’s review of Scavenge in Oranges & Sardines.
Please click here to purchase RJ’s chapbook.
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