Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Slice of Life by Kevin Hibshman

The press, Alternating Current, has a series of chapbooks called the Pocket Protector series that are just as small as you can imagine, about the size of a business card. They cost a mere $3.00 each (not including $1.00 postage).

Mr. Kevin Hibshman whose chapbook is titled Slice of Life is a collection of short poems that capture daily life events pared down to their essential frame.

One of the poems I enjoyed is as follows:

My Vacation?

No sea.
No beach.
Phone still rings and rings.
Two weeks of staying up late.
Running Nina to the vet’s where she
was put to sleep.
Smoking tearfully in the bathroom.
Smoking between CD’s.
Waiting for pizza.
Waiting for poems.
Settling for thunderstorm.
I lie under the skylight, my connection
to the outside.

I like this poem mostly because I can relate. How often have you taken a vacation only to realize you can’t escape what you were hoping to get away from and then an unexpected tragedy (as with the pet in the poem) occurs? It’s a poem that is pared down to the letdowns where the thoughts punctuate the page, simple, clear, and sober.

Another poem I enjoy is:

Until you Spoke

Heaven quietly fermented on moist,
dutiful sheets.
Sleep finally overtook assailing need
until we, like tired children,
surrendered to dream.

Serene until the sun rose, morning
broke, until you spoke and
ruined everything.

I’d like to know what was said that ruined everything, but imagining what could have been said lends the quality of mystery to the poem. I especially like the first two lines, indicating intimacy and love between the couple before it all changes the next morning.

The final poem I would like to share with you is:

Bone Grinder

In ultimate irony, I once lived to the
rear of a funeral parlor.
In a time when death seems to pervade
my waking life,
I am forced to chuckle at my own

These years have served to siphon the
romance right out of suffering.
I’ve been blowing on dice while
throwing up blood.
I think I may have broken someone’s
heart but I am sure I killed
somebody’s plans.

I’ve been hiding behind buildings,
behind alibis, behind cigarettes
and nighttime.
Behind a past so transparent that it’s
hard to find.

Here I sit numb, the hollow taste of
time on my tongue.
Stung by the act of saying one too
many goodbyes.

This is my favorite poem in the collection, I love the ways Mr. Hibshin explains his life in lines such as “I think I may have broken someone’s/heart but I am sure I killed/somebody’s plans” that ties to the funeral parlor mentioned in the beginning. I’m always happy when a poet can keep a common thread running through a poem and this one references facing ones own mortality and then leaving it open ended since he has not passed away but has been “Stung by the act of saying one too/many goodbyes.” Words such as “throwing up blood” bring a sense of violence to this poem, it keeps the reader from feeling comfortable and safe while reading it, and I am the type to find morbidity intriguing.

If you enjoyed these poems and you’d like to purchase a copy for yourself, Ms. Leah Angstman (the owner of the press) has included the following information for the Pocket Protector Series:

“they are $3.00 each, plus $1 US postage, $2 out-of-US postage. they can be purchased by cash, check, money order made out to Alternating Current, PO Box 398058, Cambridge MA 02139 USA, or via Paypal directly to the email address alt.current@gmail.com, or online at alt-current.com, where postage is done by weight. the direct links to them online are here: http://alt-current.com/pp/pp_item.html#slice_of_life all authors receive royalties on our press, and each purchase comes with a free random chapbook from the archives.”

I am a huge fan of poets making money for their work when so often they can only be rewarded with extra copies of their publication. Please support small presses such as this one and I’ll be reviewing more books from Alternating Current in the future and thanks always for reading!

Please drop in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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