Friday, March 2, 2018

Book Review: 'Consolationeer' by Marc McKee

Missouri poet Marc McKee teaches at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri and has published both chapbooks (What Apocalypse?), winner of the New Michigan Press/DIAGRAM 2008 Chapbook Contest, works in journals (Barn Owl Review, Boston Review, Cimarron Review, Conduit, Crazyhorse, DIAGRAM, Forklift, Ohio, LIT, Pleiades, he Laurel Review, Memorious, Phoebe, Rockhurst Review, Sixth Finch, So''Wester, Southern Indiana Review), anthologies, and collections of his own poems - the first in 2011 FUSE, BEWILDERNESS and now CONSOLATIONEER. His stature as an American poet is in the upper echelon as reading this magnificent anthology will prove to the reader.

Much about McKee is noted from his choice of title - CONSOLATIONEER: to console is, according to the dictionary, `comfort (someone) at a time of grief or disappointment.’ Alter that concept by substituting `enhance perception' for `perplex' and the reader will begin the journey of discovery as each of his poems steps into a different vantage from that one we are used to viewing life, places, people, and emotions. Getting caught up in his imagery is a pleasure and while it may take a few readings, both silently and aloud, to fully appreciate exactly where he has taken us, the visitation is emotionally enhancing.

It is the end of the world again
only this time it is the 5 am variation
where sleep is a rust

and you are the gleaming thing
that must wait for slow rain
and the air. The world is clearly ending,

just look at the light
starting to seep into the beyond.
We should arm ourselves with rope,

we should march into the sea,
we should miss forever the next person
we meet. We go to our next obligations

under the sign of exit music. The end
of the world? Nigh, as the night sky
dies into light – O it’s a tank

just like the body though
the body is more a paper tank, so easily burned,
torn and written upon with the unspeakable

bent into words tick bursting into
flames tick at the instant of the assault tick
for which it was tick made. Had I the right

bone structure, I would fly
into your twilight this instant and lick your ear
right with honey. I would tell you something

you never remember precisely enough
to say, but as the scarred horizon starts to burn
toward you – for surely, surely

the world is ending – you keep building it
in your mouth as you remember
every single person you ever loved.

Enter McKee's world for the length of this book and these poems will leave footprints on you mind, always. At first they may bewilder: stay around and they become part of your psyche. Grady Harp, February 18

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.