If you asked me about Mark Laba

I might tell you that perspective is a drug, and one should change suppliers as often as possible. I read Laba’s Tusk-a-Loose’a, an 18-poem chapbook from Puddles of Sky press. I took as much as I could bear and then sat with the high.

On each page is an untitled, unpunctuated, one sentence, poem one can’t help but attempt to read in a single breath (If the reader can help it, I suggest that they don’t – the poems are short, it’s quite safe). I began every page with a slight haughty grimace and an audible “what?” and finished with the “oh,” of one who just left the desert to find they were traveling for days perpendicular to a wide and shallow river.

To force perspective – If you’ve ever seen one of those drunken master type fighters, then you know how I felt reading Tusk-a-Loose’a.

Poem number eight (8) begins:
“Lately I’ve thought about the narwhal tusk
As a navigation device for my mini-van”
I’ll mention here that the cover art is that exact image (an image I thought bizarre, and still do, in the best way). In this poem the speaker is traveling an imaginary nation of their own invention, one whose imagined name can’t be recalled, in an imaginary, absurd, vehicle. Until tragedy:

“It was one hell’uva nation
Before it sank into the ocean
Which wasn’t my fault”

I love this! The speaker goes on to crush their own imaginary “second in command,” under an “avalanche/Of packing peanuts.” In this way the reader, poem after poem, is left in a mild state of shock. I told myself on the first reading that these poems shouldn’t be this good. I realized, as I came out of the desert, that these poems are masterfully imagined, disarming, and in the end subtly rebuilding. To which the poet might say, It wasn’t my fault.

Mark Laba has a heck of a bio, which I won’t pirate here. Please check him out at the Anvil Press website and maybe you can still score a copy of the limited run of Tusk-a-Loose’a at Puddles of Sky Press.

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About Me

A poet-chef living in Denver, Co. I use the orange Aquafresh toothpaste, off brand mouthwash, and those little floss picks.

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