sad boy / detective
The only thing certain to drive somebody insane (or to at least let them think they are crazy) is to make them forget they are doing something different than what somebody else has done a hundred times before. The only thing certain to drive somebody insane (or to at least let them think they are crazy) is to make them forget they are doing something different than what somebody else has done a hundred times before.
Sam Sax does this with his poetry chapbook of adolescent despair and overwhelming depression: sad boy / detective. From first breath to the very last, through the use of serialized sonnets, Sax brings to life the absurdity of subsistence seen through the eyes of an inquisitive young boy. He takes an overused concept (depression) and writes about it with a hackneyed poetic form, but somehow, to my delightful surprise, he escapes the cliché and crashes through the tropes with fierce originality and vivid language. His syntax strikes a provocative chord with those familiar with adolescent turmoil, and his diction is astonishingly astute of a little boy lost in world closing in on him. He speaks of the trials and tribulations of boyhood through a poetic lens of marvel and wonderment.
In the poem “the boy detective waits up for his brother” Sax illuminates the effects of peer pressure:
to turn his gag reflex into a precise
instrument, laughing alone in his father’s chair. glass
tumbler dimming the room in his hand.
Such poignant imagery from a sad scene. He does this again in the poem, “the boy detective loses love,” when setting up the emotional consequences from opening up your heart:
there should be a word for how the world turns
to amber resin with a long dead wasp gasping
inside when somebody leaves you.
Simply Beautiful. A stunning opening to a poem written about the tritest of subjects: heartbreak.
Sax knows how to walk between the boundaries of clichés and not give an inch to complacency by skateboarding on the wheels of complexity and innovative language. I would recommend this to everyone in need of discovering a poet who writes with an unabashed perspective unseen since the ink of Rimbaud went dry.