“An idea’s value depreciates the moment/you drive it off the lot,” proclaims Nick Demske in the one untitled poem in his self-titled collection from Fence Books, anticipating critics who might carp that his furious, punning, scatological, exploded sonnets are as overstuffed with pop-culture ephemera as the trash can outside Mickey D’s. How long before we need footnotes to understand a line like “Peppermint/Schnapps complements uninsured Hummers like an over/Eager metrosexual”? Will civilization survive that long? (Assuming it isn’t already dead.)
Eleven years after America indulged in a month-long exegesis of certain presidential ballots, many of us will reach back into the mental file marked “old news” and come up empty. Remember pregnant chads? The V-chip? David Schwimmer? The end of history? Ah, those were the days.
Ecdysiast, now: a word that conceals (with its prissy erudition) as much as the act it describes, reveals. A similar double-mindedness is at work in Nick Demske’s poetry. Cheap goods and commercialized words join with sacrosanct ones in a passionate melee. Could be an orgy, could be a fistfight. Sometimes all I see is a cloud of dust, as in the cartoons. But worth watching anyhow.
Vote yes on this ballot and get a free
Abortion when you purchase any additional abortion of equal or lesser
Of two evils. Honk if you’re saving yourself for marriage. Hear ye
Sinners; he clave the rock and the waters
Menstruated forth like a head wound—no, a
Boil on Job’s ass! Vote yes if you’re not chicken.
Bu bawk bawk bawwwk. This poem paid for by the
People that brought you natural selection,
Epidurals and baby bibs
With Noah’s ark graphics stitched on. Vote yes and choose to give
A child Life. Vote yes for
Promotional use only, vote yes sir, right away sir,
Vote yes if you love me, vote yes, vote yes, vote yes
Yes, yes, no please don’t stop I was so close.
“the answer to all those rhetorical questions”
for Sara Thornton
A finger contours the serrations. A hand with all its digits
Intact caresses these stumps with a wash rag. This is
All my fault. I never should have let this happen.
So liberated we voluntarily bind our librations
Inside this cage; its dimension lines a high art form, throbbing out our rhythm.
She sways like the bangs of a willow. With her bamboo manicure.
With your skin shell hide husk rind etc. But I’ll never die because I am
A god. You, on the other hand, are
Female. It’s so cold the snow looks like diamonds. If we’re
So frickin’ beautiful, we’ll shove our lily hands into the contents
Of this diaper here and mould them to a song. We’ll burrow deeper
Into all our thickly caked integuments, just to dim our radiance’s violent,
Seismic vox. Undistorted majesty demands
It’s own grotesqueness. It’s so cold the coal looks like diamonds.