Patricia Gomes: poetry, fiction, freelancing

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Reviews by Gomes

Review:  Kristi Swadley's Water Pistol Suicide Pose *

by Patricia Gomes

 

Author Kristi Swadley's chapbook, Water Pistol Suicide Pose is number 43 in the Springfed Chapbook Series from Foothills Publishing.  The fifteen poems in this meditative collection taunt Death:  should I, could I … what will happen if I do?  Swadley's a temptress.  More about that later.

 

Opening with An Autopsy of Sorts (note the facetiousness in the title; her work is nothing if not facetious) Swadley warns her mark against getting closer; after all, she may stick around, she may not:

 

" … i have grown tired of myself

you haven't known me long

enough

 

i give away little bits of myself
testing you
trying to find which revelation

finally drives you away

what's your breaking point

 

i can flirt and tease

show you some of column A

dabble in column B

but when you ask for it all

i become … "   Ooooh, let me cut you off right there, boys—I can tease with the best of 'em. 

 

Swadley wants us closer—she doesn't fool me for a second—and like any talented chanteuse, will reach deep into her sequined bag of tricks to keep us interested:

 

" …have you placed me on a
pedestal
or did i hoist myself up there

so i can point a finger at you

blame you for my inevitable

fall

 

i will sit upon said pedestal

look down from such

a height

feel positive

the fall will break me …"

 

This poem, all well as the rest, are a textbook study in mood swings.  She's hot; she's cold.  Every raw nerve is vibrating and visible—and you are stepping on them.  I advise you to get the hell out of her way.

" … this is not what
i wanted for myself

 

i was smiling

just a second ago

 

my mind slipped

back a bit

i was in my
personal hell

again … "

— from The Day I Lost Direction

 

Swadley's lines are terse—there is no clutter, no unnecessary verbiage that would only draw your attention away from her conclusions.  You will witness paranoia, fear, over-confidence, irony, and conceit causing your head to spin, but when you're done, you will know what complexity really means.


Sounds like I like the poems, doesn't it?  I do.  And I know exactly what my regular readers are thinking: "Pat, most of the poems here contain no line end punctuation—you despise poems without line end punctuation!"  Calm down, normally that's true, but in the case of Water Pistol Suicide Pose, I approve whole-heartedly of Swadley's choice to ride bareback.  The longest lines in the whole chapbook are only six words; I wasn't kidding when I said terse.  Punctuation would only screw up the economy. 

 

Near the end of the chap you'll find a cluster of poems that, in my opinion, should have opened the book because it's these five where Swadley's in-yer-face cockiness (a trait that will either repulse or delight the reader; this reviewer is delighted) is most evident.  The titles are as direct as their content: What I Know; What I'll Never Find Out; What I've Found Out; What I've Lost, and What I've Got. 

 

In each, the stanzas are antithetic, alternating betwixt-n-between (as is Swadley's propensity).  What makes this grouping stand above the rest is her forthright openness.  The poems are the point-blank admissions that insomniacs are all too familiar with, for only under cover of darkness do we so thoroughly confront ourselves.

 

Ms. Swadley may be a "young author," but she is urbane.  Had I been half as prudent at her age, I'd have saved myself a bundle in therapy.

 

I refuse to excerpt more. 

 

C'mon—it's a chapbook; if I quoted from every single poem in this modest collection, why would you buy it?  Give us all a break and support poetry by unzipping your wallet once in awhile, fuhgawdsake?

 

Deep breath, deep breath … step down off the dais.

 

I like Swadley's style—she's smug.  I like smug.  Gypsy Rose Lee was smug; I liked Gypsy Rose Lee.  Mizz Gypsy was a tease.  So is Swadley.  "Here's a peek, boys—don't tell Mama!"  Mizz Gypsy knew who she was and what she was doing … so does Swadley, though she wants you to believe she's still tottering on the fence.  I didn't totter.  I found balance in her unsteadiness and I believe that's the purpose of this lil' black-stitched, blue-covered assemblage.

 

The final poem, Uncertain Future, was the perfect choice to end what, for the reader, will be a Whirl-a-Gig ride.  It's a gem; it's finding a ten-spot in the pocket of an old coat.  Okay, okay—I'll give you this one for two reasons: 1.)  because it has line end punctuation, and 2.)  because it'll end my rambling opine seamlessly.  Consider it a gift.

 

Uncertain Future

Happiness is death
for an angry poet.

So, what shall my
headstone read?

 

Here lies Kristi:

One angry bitch
Until someone made
Her happy.

My life was not complete
unless there was a new drama,
an outrage to vent.
So hollow,

scared,

needy,

tired,

of my bullshit.

 

Such a bright light,

he says,

overwhelmed by shadow.
He wants to disperse

my gloom.
I want to relent,

give over myself.

 

I do.

 

Did you hear me?
I do!

Goddamn it,

I want it more than
I ever knew.

*  *  *

Kristi Swadley is an editor/publisher/writer based in the Midwest.  She is currently enjoying her stint as an assistant editor for Lily, A Monthly Online Literary Review.  Her work has appeared in Ygdrasil, Unlikely Stories 2.0, Litvision and is forthcoming in Real Eight View and the inaugural issue of Lorraine and James.

 

Water Pistol Suicide Pose is available for purchase at Foothills Publishing. 

 

 * As appears in the July 2005 edition of Adagio Verse Quarterly

 

 

 

 

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A Review:  Maria Lupinacci's After Dinner Mints*

by Patricia Gomes

 

I've followed the poetic career of Maria Lupinacci for several years now; in that time, I've watched in awe as she matured from an introspective poet to one of universal insight, as evidenced by her collection of poems in After Dinner Mints. 

 

Ms. Lupinacci's poems invoke a feeling of disquiet; in her world, all is never exactly as it seems—what should be up, is often down, and like Alice, you're left wondering which side of the Looking Glass is the safer side, the lesser of two evils.

 

   "The night delivers secrets to my pillow.

 

   Inside, I know I should stop

   here, should save what comes next

   for the story I am writing,

   the one where the girl is not so innocent,

   is not the Princess posed

   under the tree who awaits said dark-eyed King,

   but she is the other—

 

   There is a collection of Chinese fortunes

   in the bottom of my purse,

   kept there for quick reference

   on the days that make no-sense,
   my favorite tells me 'There is a serpent
   coiled under a rock'

 

   He meets me at noon …"

 

In that poem, So Say the Naive Ones, Lupinacci builds skillfully towards a haunting climax.  And she's very good at doing so, proving herself again and again, as poem follows haunting poem.

 

You'll find yourself caught in the web she weaves in Degrees and Sensibilities:

 

   "He never understood my strange language,

   the way I couldn't sleep if the moon

   was a little past full

   when Gemini moved into Mars

   three point nine degrees.

   He thought me odd, my drama

   was too much for any man to conceive,

   though he would tell me how the walls

   suddenly became one with the bed

   when I left the room

   and he needed my breath …"

 

When I finished the poem, I wanted so badly to meet He (the lucky bastard!) …  and simultaneously hoped that I never would.  (poor schmuck!)  "He" makes cameo appearances throughout this spellbinding collection; I wish him well—and will say a prayer for him.

 

There are five parts in this thirty-nine paged tome; each part is named after a candy (Smidgens, Tangerine Twists, Hard Tacks, etc.) making the book title appropriately delicious.  WARNING: Don't let her fool you!  Sweetness and virtuousness are not to be found within these pages.  Lupinacci writes boldly (and often sorrowfully) of addiction, compulsion, and duplicity.

 

As I'm typing, the bulb in the lamp behind me has blown out; Lupinacci's poetic energy has a long reach.  From Saline Solutions:

 

   "Today I will place your picture

   under a glass of water,

   chant a Tibetan Mantra

   I learned

   to release negativity …"

 

What's wrong, friend—excerpts just a tease?  Buy the book.  As far as I'm concerned, at eight bucks, you're getting one helluva deal.  I leave you with these parting words from Seasoning the Fall, make what you will of them, but know there is truth in Lupinacci's lines:

 

All that is taken in,

funneled through the diaphragm,

released as a new breath,

     eventually returns.

 

*  *  *

Maria Lupinacci is a 2003 Pushcart Nominee whose work has been featured in Dark Moon Rising, Erosha, Point of Life, Lily, readingdivas, Tryst, VLQ-Verse Libre Quarterly, and Morbid Outlook.  Her future publications include the upcoming anthology Cosmic Brownies published by The Sun Rising Poetry Press.

 

Ms. Lupinacci is a Certified Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, and an Integrated Energy Therapist who currently resides in New Jersey.

 

After Dinner Mints is available for purchase at FootHills Publishing. 

 

 * As appeared in the April 2005 edition of Adagio Verse Quarterly

 

 

 

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