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Arsenic Lobster - Summer 2012

  • Issue Number: Issue 29
  • Published Date: Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle: Triannual online

Arsenic Lobster is a great concoction, a boiling pot of poetry that fizzles and pops. The poetry pokes, it prods. Cristofre Kayser’s poem asks “Was there ever a knife that did not cut?” And Jeanne Stauffer-Merle’s poem tells us that “The mouth of wind is jagged and hanging and / cold and cold . . .”

“My Favorite Aunt and Uncle Star in One Long Silent Movie” by Valerie Loveland paints a scene, all visually as it is a “silent film.” The details of the film, though, occur again and again in the recurring moments of their lives: “His quit smoking scene was so popular / he starts and stops smoking almost daily.”

“Territorial Poem” by Scott T. Starbuck is a poem about Stan and Ned and their (illegal) tricks to fishing. It begins,

Stan, an old timer with an artificial heart,
says if I want really good fishing,
get rid of my sissy fly rod and forget rules.
“Instead, go past the No Trespassing sign
around the bend,
and cast a treble hook
above a spark plug.”
His white hair and reddish-brown eyes
make him look like an albino-badger.

Jane Sellman’s contributing poem celebrates “distinctive gifts since 1958” from a woman named Harriet Carver. It playfully mixes those As-Seen-On-TV products with their unique slogans and uses. For example, one section reads, “Thank you for the purification of the air in my house and for the automatic irrigation of my plants and for keeping my food fresh for longer than scientists will admit possible and for supporting my sagging breasts and protecting my arthritic knees and for such technological wonders as the Automatic Birdbath, the Birdbath Protector, the Toothpaste Tube Squeezer, and the Three-Section Microwave Plates, which come in sets of four, each plate a different color.”

And I’ve been introduced to new poet that I will now follow: Jessi Lee Gaylord. Her poem “Icarus in Recession” is a modern look at Icarus, starting,

Icarus is the hero of his own strife
crème de la crème of basement apartment
hearts, miscellaneous in the labyrinth
of layoffs, 401(k) ravaged in the weird
science of economic crisis.

John Calavitta’s untitled piece is all over the page, quite literally. Starting with a short stanza—

I helped empty her condo out
           and was amazed at the things
she had stuffed into no longer walk-in closets:
           sugar and paraffin whisked,
coffee with crushed eggshells
           pebbles from a stream in Colorado.

—it then moves into some prose and other line-breaked sections that fall left aligned, right aligned, and centered on the page. The second section, commentary on bulls, dogs, and the narrator being gay, was my favorite. It starts, “I grew up on a farm and remember how angry my father was when one of our bulls would only mate with another bull. I guess I realized then that I wouldn’t bother telling him I was gay. We stopped feeding the cat Fancy Feast because he thought it was too feminine.”

Associate Editor Jessica Dyer says that we need to read these poems, and reread them; she says that summer doesn’t last forever, but these poems will. As the fall wind begins to howl, these poems make snuggling inside with a blanket and a magazine very inviting.

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Review Posted on October 15, 2012

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