Modern Life

Matthea Harvey

There are many interesting takes on “modern” life in this collection of poems. From the kind of anachronistically futurist Robo-Boy placed in a banal contemporary setting to the militarily apocalyptic series that maps words found between future and terror in the dictionary. The two semi-abecedarian series ascend the alphabet in one and descend in the other but maintain the same sense of desolation.

The Future of Terror / 11

From the gable window, we shot
at what was left: gargoyles and garden gnomes.
I accidentally shot the generator
which would have been hard to gloss over
in a report except we weren’t writing reports
anymore. We ate our gruel and watched
the hail crush the hay we’d hoped to harvest.
I found a handkerchief drying on a hook
and without a hint of irony, pocketed it.
Here was my hypothesis: we were inextricably
fucked. We’d killed all the inventors and all
the jesters just when we most needed humor
and invention. The lake breeze was lugubrious
at best, couldn’t lift the leaves. As the day lengthened,
we knew we’d reached the lattermost moment.
The airlift wasn’t on the way. Make-believe
was all I had left but I couldn’t help but see
there was no “we” — you were a mannequin
and I’d been flying solo. I thought about
how birds can turn around mid-air, how
the nudibranch has no notion it might need
a shell. Swell. I ate the last napoleon—
it said Onward! on the packaging.
There was one shot left in my rifle.
I polished my plimsolls.
I wrapped myself in a quilt.
So this is how you live in the present.

I thought I’d read a book of Harvey’s before, but she must have just gotten lost on a list somewhere. So there are a couple more books to put on my list.

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