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Review: ‘Hornet Homily’, by Patrick Culliton

Hornet HomilyHornet Homily by Patrick Culliton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Don’t worry, all the stings are teaching moments. This chapbook traumatized me then spooned me, waterboarded me in its turbid pool but it’s all part of the carnival game, the sideshow–I was dropped repeatedly into that impossibly tiny pool performers leap into from the cartoon high-dive.

The language-water will go to boil on you, and each time you come up for air the world changes, perhaps with flashes of expression that could be soothing and as lonely as the distant discharges of ships:

“Songs leapt
and relaxed me when we rid. May you wake,
the moon an argument on your face.

Your name is a ship
in a harbor lousy with low horns.”

Don’t get complacent now; this ‘you’ has more than surprisingly-generated chains of colored scarf on their person:

“Stop making Kleenex sandwiches.

Cut the gas on what makes you announce
the fires of December Wichita
your innards have become.”

And for those of you in the audience requiring some more acute movement:

“I know what I’d do if a train
barreled out of your thighs. Wait
for it to stop and then whip the passengers
with padlocks. In the ribs
and occasional knees I’d whip them,
with cracks like luncheon ice.”

Violence in faded Elway jerseys, reticent Vikings, a rattle made from Uncle Sam’s teeth in an aspirin bottle. Culliton’s collage of untraceable locations and unimaginable images sidle up often along tremendously fluid movements of linguistic partnerships as unsettling as they are enjoyable on the visceral level of a stabbing (guffaw) in your deepest gut.

This makes two chaps in a row that left me bleeding, I’m starting to feel like I don’t even want to look at a full-length collection right now. This chap is worth however many pennies or sacrificed livestock Octopus is demanding–this is a press that never seems to get it wrong.

I can’t end without mentioning the physical quality of the book–superb visually and texturally, it’ll stare out from your shelf as the fun house it is, micro in girth but overwhelming once inside (we’re back to the cartoon diving pool, wasn’t that clever?).

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