heidi's Reviews > Black Maria: Poems Produced and Directed by

Black Maria by Kevin Young
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Mar 09, 2012

it was amazing
Read in January, 2010

This is a noir movie in verse, in a spare, mattress-ticking-and-iron-rail style. The language is both gritty and playful. You never forget that these characters are leading lives of being a little too cold, a little too poor, a little too drunk. Even the sex scenes occur in seedy motels and the rhapsodies are about forgetting.

Collapse( some excerpts. I had a hell of a time choosing )

Rendezvous
[many awesome lines omitted, from now on represented by ....]
Her noble camisole
flees her body, wholly

And she is above me
floating, dyed

Hair caught
in stars & areoles --

Lingering cigarette light

Bolted-down seascape art
Peristent static radio

My growing, gibbous heart

The Alias
...

I drink a lot
about my thinking problem --

Nightcap,
noontime nip --

She my unquit habit.
.....
My good eye watched
all night the storm

Drown the street in worms

The Rushes
....
Planned she & I would meet
where the dead sleep, pretending

No one there knew me --

Beneathe the morgue moon,
blue light tugging at seas

One day, I thought, that
will be me

In the godawful ground --

Our kisses cemeteries

The suicides coughing in their restless deep

The moon autopsied
to find out if it waned

From natural causes.
Bulletproof hearses.
......
I snapped back to see
her hushed beside me

Soft-focus frame fading

The fedoraed darkness moving --

Our arms open
as fire, we embraced

While bullets ricocheted
off stone angels

Worn down by weather
& winnowed by tears

Of red-clad windows
in crocodile heels

Who visit just one hour a year.

Stills
....
Without her I am incomplete --
prehensible, licit, couth.
*
Wisdom this tooth
aching I want removed.

The Grift
....
His real home was six feet
beneath ground, he was just

up here renting breath
with the rest of us, short-term lease

he's fallen behind on.
*
Flimflam man,
two empty hands.
Collapse

In short, I really loved this book, and was strangely unsurprised when I got to the end and there was a heartfelt thank-you to Colson Whitehead, because while the voice wasn't that similar, this book and The Intuitionist could exist in the same world.

Read if: You like lyrical poetry featuring a complete absence of ladies, lillies, clouds, or joy. If you are in the mood for a long-form poetry book. If you love noir and the trenchcoated gumshoes and fallen chantueses that populate it.
Skip if: You really want straightforward beauty, you hate short lines, poetry seems inefficient to you.
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