The first poem in Matt Jasper’s Moth Moon is one of the best poems I’ve read recently. It is called “Flight” and it describes two people watching a group of black birds fly towards the moon. There is a shift in the last two lines with the fear that “all of the light in the world will be blotted out forever.” This poem is four lines long and complete and moving. I even enjoyed the next few poems in the book as well; however, I detected an unsettling trend in the second half of the book.
In the poem “Fusillade” a pregnant girl is blown up “until enough of her spatters down.” The next poem is called “Venus at the Shell Station” and it describes a beautiful pregnant woman “bulging / with my seed.” The next string of poems continues this narrative thread. The pregnant woman has the baby and at least one other. Then she abandons her family and they all seem lost without each other. The poems and the emotions are raw. Jasper is a talented poet and his pain echoes through the reader. He quickly changes subjects to the more light-hearted “The Tip of the Iceberg,” where he smugly transcribes the ramblings of a mentally unstable love interest.
Jasper has a poetic alter ego: a sentient dog that shows up in a couple of poems. This dog is surly and vindictive and buries a group of bridesmaids that “miscarried twins / of themselves” at the dog’s own aborted wedding. To be fair, no bodies or body parts are stable in Jasper’s world. Arms float away from the bodies they are attached to and hands remove themselves so they can bury the arm in a shallow grave. I merely find some of it harder to swallow. “Proposal for a Third Wife” seems to be a playful exercise in misogyny where the speaker traps his new wife and humiliates her in a variety of ways. Of course, Jasper does not want to kill pregnant women and of course this poem is in jest. But there is a cruelty directed specifically towards women that is problematic at best.