In her first full-length poetry collection, Our Chrome Arms of Gymnasium, Crystal Curry takes a daring and fresh stylistic approach. Chrome Arms displays less of a focus on the cryptic imagery that is popular today, filling that vacuum with a long-lost poetic art: fun. This book was a sheer pleasure to read. While images still exist in the poems, Curry places more emphasis on wordplay and syllables; bouncy and melodic, some of her lines just sound damn cool when read aloud, such as this excerpt from “Cherries”:
We wanted it so sizzling seven
we fell into a doghouse for king watermelon. For you,
a doghouse, for balloon bars. We did it so diamond deluxe,
we wanted it more pretend, so we did it on Santa’s
jackpot bed & felt so very more big pulsar then—
Don’t mistake Curry’s light and eccentric technique for work that is easy or shallow. Her delicate style in poems like “Love Chant” and “Tract” is so finely crafted, the changing of a single letter would interrupt the balance of the lines as they flow off one’s tongue, imbuing Our Chrome Arms of Gymnasium with a deep sense of rhythm. Other poems, such as “Drink To” temper this melodic style with a comically bitter and cynical tone. “How I Explain Myself to Former, Current & Potential Husbands” features Curry’s own brand of dark humor:
I am arching and pregnant with dying postulates.
I will be the ellipsis between one & every other.
I am frigging anachronistic, so said all the nuns.
I will float in the music of liminal sounds.
I lived on spent bullet shells for a number of years.
I’m gold & I rim commemorative plates.
I was highly prized jackfruit & then I was rags.
This subtle undermining becomes more pronounced as the collection progresses, most especially noted in an entire section of religiously titled and themed works. Curry—a child of the Midwest—delves into the angst of religious confusion in “Rite,” “Confession,” “Vow,” and in this section from “Moral”:
if the body looses us lickety trees
on dandified trees &
when the tongue
teases some triune what does it do
for the long over-arching long arm of the long
to a bright assertion the bud responds
to a vis-à-vis
or is it a vaz
or searching the cream on each
In Our Chrome Arms of Gymnasium, Crystal Curry loosens the vice grip that concrete images often holds over writing. Moving away from the tendency to appeal to readers solely on the level of their mental projections, Curry bridges the gap between pretentious and experiential poetry, expanding the minds of her readers in the process.