MILK DEBTHow could I resist a poetry collection called The Cow (New York NY: Fence Books, 2006)? Winner of the 2006 Alberta Prize (newly renamed the Motherwell Prize, annually offering a cash prize and the publication of a first or second book of poems by a woman), American poet and filmmaker Ariana Reines' first poetry collection works through the name of the livestock meant for food against a disparaging remark used against girls and women as her focal point, and working out from that into magnificent poems that challenge, push and even punch their way through the page. An exciting, vibrant, passionate and highly intelligent first poetry collection, first poetry collections rarely get as good as this; a clean sense of self, a clear sense of goals, and a smart, clear sense of how the poems fit together as a whole unit.
The day is a fume. At starboard, a white kirtle which is the moon. The day has a hallmark, the night also.
Blue winter air. The chief leaf, which is a firm clasp on the smoke of days that keep on destroying my mind. It is not easy to be honest because it is impossible to be complete.
AFTERWARDFrom the bodies of ruined animals to the bodies of ruined women, the poems in The Cow push hard against prevailing winds that somehow feel less strong after the push; this is a fiery and powerful "fuck you"; this is a book about hope. As she writes, "I have to get to the other side of the animal" (p 63). This is a book that makes its points by tearing you a new one (knowing that it's the only way you'll learn).
Does a resemblance really mean anything.
The world rhymes too much. Maybe.
A situation of the similar kept aloft by an air that is hating.
I spell it like that because I mean it.
Well, maybe a situation can find a way to be a family against your will.
Or maybe that's just psychoanalysis, I was going to write.
All this "meaning." It is rhyme. Is just rhyme.
And this, this could be it. Liberty.
I am harassed.
Tonight three guys in a car said we can help you with your hardon.
That was the most genderfuck catcall I ever pretended I wasn’t hearing as I walked by it.
I am so tired, deep deep inside. I am tired.
This ceaseless squabble. What Mandelstam said.
What. Now what. Go on. Go on.
In the night you might as well not be in a country.
I feel like a sandbar sucking whiskey from a taser gun or brill cream. Finally your cock reimburses me.
"The best way is the hardest."
My sea of love. I want to tell you. My sea of love. I want to tell you.
Cannot have a "the world" but can have millions of guts through which the maize and antibiotics of "a world" are forced to pass.
I feel about you secondly, or secondarily, succeeding.
Succeeding is only going on. A second's not an instant it is simply not the first. All counting means not being at the origin.
"They call me the Meat Handler. Among other things."
I cannot count the altering that happens in the very large rooms that are the guts of her.
World translated. Words that could have been voles falling assfirst out her face.