Free Boat: Collected Lies and Love PoemsFree Boat: Collected Lies and Love Poems by John Reed
My rating: 4/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

i’m not sure what this book is, or how to review it. it is…slippery.

it pretends to be a collection of poems, but the poems are sort of stuck together with bits of commentary, faux-memoir, hints of crimes committed, loves lost, history experienced, memories half-shared…in a way it’s like Pale Fire, where poem and commentary unite and also trip over each other with digressions, tantalizing fragments, allusions, winky wordplay, foreshadowing, polyglot playfulness, metafictional fourth-wall breaking, self-referential allusions blended with an arrogant, criminal alter ego, presented as memoir…and that sounds messy, and sometimes is, but it’s also really intoxicating.

but what iiiiisssss it?

dunno, but it’s got pictures!

i’m going to trot out a couple of the poems i enjoyed as standalone poems, even though it feels wrong to sever them from their connectivity to the larger flow.

30 (bleavenly hiss)

Me alone, dear God, in these hills of flesh, making
nothing of something, something of nothing.
Do you hear my prayers? Or here, do I pray for
nothing for nothing, something for something?
Are there no gifts with heaven’s broken promise?
Are there no gifts with heaven’s broken promise?
Nothing to something, something to nothing.
A ribbon in wind, this motherless aching.
Nothing no something no something no nothing.
I am tidal need, and break-water spray.
Know something, nothing: a know-nothing something.
A minute abyss of bleavenly hiss.
Some know know-nothing. No, some no knowing.

We dear know God, no Godless know-nots.
We dear, no God, know Godless, know naught.

or the somewhat less lyrical


She smelled like puke and a bar, and childhood; /
where love is a dozen thoughtless handouts, / and
old women you don’t know ask your name, / and
slip you money rotting with perfume, / like your
parents are children that left them, / and you’re all
they have, and they’re all you have. / Smiles like
that, on the bus down Seventh Avenue. / She smells
like my ex-step-father’s girlfriends, / barmaids that
laughed like porch paint and bourbon, / and looked
at you like you were more of the same. / You and
your friends and your miserable hopes. / She’d seen
your type before, and wouldn’t budge. / They all
came into the bar, with a bulge.

its a mishmash, for sure, but it’s a really fun mishmash, so have at it!

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