Factory Hollow Press, 2011. Mark Leidner's BEAUTY WAS THE CASE THAT THEY GAVE ME has one of the sweetest cover designs I have ever seen, but that is not the point. The point is that the name of this blog and this book might as well be the same thing. I am going to skip over the part where I tell you Yes it's funny, Yes the language is fresh, Yes Mark Leidner is a very good poet etc etc, so I can get to the part where I tell you that this book will say "Hey I Love You" in ways sometimes unusual, sometimes "unpoetic," and sometimes bordering on totally indecent and uncomfortable. From "Mutually Assured Childhood Molestation" (what did I JUST say?):
"In which case, and my point is
I must have been molested by someone beautiful
because I'm attracted to you
and you are beautiful
and my attraction is strong
and of the beyond-my-control variety
precisely the kind of attraction brought on
by supersecret prepubescent abuse."
These poems propose over and over that there is no better or worse way to be delivered into the arms of other people--they build into themselves a ridiculous, laughable conceit, but it's the poems' die-hard commitment to these absurdities that ultimately illuminates the ephemeral nature of love and language. Everything is interchangeable, as perhaps best seen in the poem "What's Cool Changes," which so ridiculously discusses the slippery nature of "cool" for close to a page, but ends with "Now, those and only those who ... are willing to alter their entire / belief structures to keep pace with what's cool as it changes, are, in the end, and / all alone, completely cool." Leidner praises adaptability, fluidity, and knowing that sometimes the best way to pin-down "the point," is not to try at all. Humor and a gracious love of playfulness are abundant in this book. When the poems do touch upon the decidedly UN-hilarious (and they do, upon war, upon death) there is a feeling of organic, genuine awakening to their consciousness:
"And at what age
do normal men mature?
I wonder this and get a boner...
and yet there are some things
that do not give me a boner:
the level of tranquility
a Jeep of body bags achieves
jostling off along a twisting gravel
path, bound for home;
the bracing red and white of flags
The precision with which Leidner's poems turn from the ordinary to face the underlying horror of American living is tremendous. It will make your head spin in a way that you want. Read this awesome book and then sue me if it doesn't become your new favorite thing ever. I'm not worried.