Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Single Ply and Soaked Through by Leah Angstman

Leah Angstman’s latest collection from Alternating Current’s Propaganda Press, single ply and soaked through, shoots straight from the hip with pared down memories about hip urban scenes, former hometowns, and the interactions of daily life with loved ones and strangers. I am happy to share a few poems that stuck with me:

dull roar of the crowd

how to make myself fit in among them
stretch the skin to envelop their ideals
their fashions
hairdos manicures
how to laugh when someone tells
a silly something so unfunny
that one just has to laugh

unless one is one
whose mold just doesn’t stretch
from the corner where i occupy
the table of one
who fits that mold

lonely music plays and
fiddles whine and i hear it
where others hear themselves
and yet try to make
our own sounds more important
more necessary
louder and casual
until it’s as empty as
this unstretchable skin
i wear

this mold
i’ve broken

This poem sounds like my own experience at a party or social gathering where I don’t know the people I’m with very well. I’m sure most of us have had the experience of trying to fit into a new crowd or setting and noting how some people try to make themselves sound important to fit in while others sit back and watch instead. I love the idea of “whose mold just doesn’t stretch/from the corner i occupy” because I can relate directly to it. How about you?

no, tom brady doesn’t come here

look around this bar
and tell me
what tom brady would find here

yet he visits up the road a piece
his dad a regular at the
difference a few blocks
a few more wines can make

when jon malkovich used to
sit back at booth 24
i thought it a good fit
his quiet bohemia mingling with
pbr’s and dim lights and
bad-tipping tufts students

but he was no football star
the ooohs and ahhhs not so grand
below the breaths and eyes
quick to turn away
easily distracted by the equally mundane

no supermodels on arms
no small talk because he’s been
hit too many times
to think of anything clever

yes that’s what this bar needs
more glamour less intellect
less poetry
more shoulder pads

I had to ask Leah Angstman about this poem and she revealed she worked in one bar in Cambridge while her friend worked at another up the street that tended to attract big names. While celebrities came to Leah’s bar, the flashier and more glamorous celebs came to her friend’s bar. She says John Malkovich was a regular and I have to admit I am jealous. I like that the poem pokes fun at her friend and hints that Tom Brady is short on intellect compared to John Malkovich.

today i was fitted for new ear plugs

shaped to my inner ear
and the battlefield scars of my
holed non-waterproof eardrums

bulky and protruding
with large r and l indicators
tiny grips for convenient removal
and embarrassingly bright blue

in the mirror i see them
as others see them
bold blue beacons of differentiation
and confidence loses its

flashbacks to childhood
those bits of wax the size and
shape of hominy
tiny chunks that would break off
get lodged in my ear
requiring surgical removal

the humiliating days of
middle school locker room showers
when it was apparently humorous for others
to poke fingers in my ears at the plugs
despite my sad begging looks of
a thousand starving children

now the future is here
in molded plastic and a comfort fit
pieces that don’t break off
waterproof with a tiny carrying case
annoyingly labeled with my name
in case you didn’t know the defective one
complete with chain to wear as beach bling
to the special Olympics

specially formed for my
scarred and damaged eardrums
to go under water in complete comfort
without design flaws
except one
for my confidence
but hey doc
i’m sure no one will notice
that they’re
bright fucking blue.

This one makes me smile because everyone has their own stories of embarrassing childhood memories that continue to pop up into adulthood. For Leah it is the ear plugs to protect her damaged ear drums and I can relate, why would the medical companies make these stand out so much? For me, it was head gear, and all manner of devices for my teeth growing up. A poem that pays tribute to those embarrassing items we rely on for a “normal existence” but portrays us as anything but normal is a funny yet heart-string-tugging poem. Thank you Leah, for putting your own embarrassment front and center because we can relate to you and you can relate to us.

If you enjoyed this sample of poems and would like a copy of single ply and soaked through by Leah Angstman, you may purchase a copy for $5.00 (+$2.00 U.S. shipping/handling or +$3.00 outside-U.S. shipping/handling) by using the link below:


Thanks always for reading, please click in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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