Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jack Henry's crunked by David McLean (Book Review)

crunked by Jack Henry
Reviewed by David McLean

Crunked is probably the best book thus far by Jack Henry, and Jack Henry is easily the best poet currently active in the USA. That is why I thought I would review this, though I edited it myself. He does not posture, boast, or pretend that he plumbs the depths of the human soul – he just does it. These poems are without evident artifice, they are, however, among the very very few poems now being produced that are going to be, that deserve to be, stayers

3. i am science
lost in sun and sand

when they toll an august church bell
there’s nothing left of me

(from addict)

Henry's voice is self-assured, but the topics it works with do not reassure, the void paternal token at the heart of their fucked-up American identities, the emptiness of the consumerist life-style, the consequent lack of any genuine sense of self and achievement, the often scarcely noticeable fact that the basic job on offer, the fundamental rĂ´le of the worker in most modern societies, is whore.

What is available as consolation cuts down to still existing, still being able to carry on the daily rooting through the existential garbage

we fuck without passion
another days dies,
black night fills window frames
her mother calls
and they talk awhile
i finally dress,
snort down my last line
and return to the sidewalk,
still breathing,
still moving,
sanguine in my decline

(from checking out)

Jack manages to totally avoid the drug fancier's dreadful tendency to whine like a bitch about drugs, to blame them for a personal weakness, to develop self-righteousness and self-pity to an unbearable extent. He is innocent of this, and the strength of the poetry is that there is very little attribution of blame. This is just the way things are.

The book contains a number of depictions of homosexual prostitution – again without blaming the methamphetamine, because drugs do not make whores whores, they might bring out the whore, but the ability to sell oneself is there already, and there are other ways to get drug money. In a sense, the whoring in the book provides access to a layer of allegory, a seedier semantic level. For what is the whore, male or female, doing to degrade him or herself that those who work nine to five to prop up the decaying and bloated american racist state have not done a thousand times already?

depending on passion
it might start with kissing
you work your way down
suck on his cock

more dope
more vein blood fire
he fucks your ass
no concern for protection
no concern for anything

except the next high

(from this is how it works)

Ultimately, Jack Henry's crunked feels like a slice of life, as pointless but nonetheless pretty as life itself. it is a beautiful description of The Empty, and it is therefore highly congenial to myself or any other axiological nihilist. None of this matters, remember. My moral conclusion? There are other drugs, some of them easier on the nerves than meth. So give this man some heroin.

Author bio:

Up-to-date details of McLean's publications and several available books and chapbooks, including two print full lengths and two free electronic chapbooks are at his blog at Mourning Abortion. A new chapbook hellbound is on sale from Epic Rites Press. A third full length, Laughing at Funerals is out in March 2010 from Epic Rites where he edits the book series and has a "virtual office." A novel is coming in 2011.

1 comment:

Leigh Luckily said...

i love jack henry.