Skip to main content

Mr. Rogers Kills Fruit Flies, by Scott Ferry, reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Mr Rogers Kills Fruit Flies

Scott Ferry

Main Street Rag 2020

53 pages

$13

978-1-59948-825-7



Scott Ferry is a poet of lengthy breath and a surreal logic, used to reveal the intricacies of a mind gently turned on itself. The book is divided into three sections: Mr. Rogers kills fruit flies; how to cross eyelid bridge; Divination by; each with its own character and concerns. Early in the first section, narrated by historical figures in unusual situations, Ferry stopped my poetry-musing--that pleasant state wherein one thumbs the book lovingly, looking for the good word--with the beginning lines of 'Joseph Campbell dreams of war.'


It started in the bathroom, mirror etched in ice,   

the razor's rhetoric on jawline tearing up

trees and children, and here in my home!


But I cannot leave Jean unbeknown

on the lanai. I look to the East, there

is a mountain of bodies skinned bare


like antelope. In the crater their identities

cave in, obtund. The lava waves fragrant

like hibiscus and rot. . .


The odd and surreal juxtaposition of ice in stanza one and lanai in st. two can't prepare us for the 'mountain of bodies' and the lava fragrant with hibiscus and rot. The poem continues, referencing spirits as disparate as Wonder Woman, Krishna, Hanuman, Sita, and finally Charon the ferryman, whom we find does not accept credit. I appreciate the willingness of the poet to direct the reader outside the poem and pleasantly down the rabbit hole of research via these casual mentions of Gods and beings. 


In the second section subtitled 'titles of children's books that will never be written' the reader finds a number of astonishing poems of genetic engineering (Gilly and the tiger wings) and fish cleaning an octopus (clockwise the sleeping octopus) and my favorite of these, "a bee in the maze of springs and wasps."


If my Queen wishes, I will go again,

past the poppies and the dripping ferns,

past the wasp Queen and the yellow-toothed den,

over the coils of high wires that crack and burn


to find the low moist strawberry beds

white and gold, and the blackberry stamens

between the taut thorns of rust and red

and the backlit lavender bulbs illumined.


I suppose there have been poems from bee POV before but I can't recall them, and if I could recall them I doubt they'd be this good. The easy inobtrusive off-rhymes and near-iambic lines guide us through the bee's journey out to serve its Queen and back to serve again. I don't think I'm such a romantic until I read poems like this one. It's a great poem.


Section three falters only a bit for me, as poems of divination force me to figure out the form of the divination rather than enjoying the form of the poem, but that doesn't mean there aren't great poems here as well. "Cleidomancy: by keys," is one such example, what appears to be a simple list poem is complicated when the narrator leaves the list-making and concentrates on the metaphorical key to the present, a list of what his spouse and child are doing, and the surprises embedded in their day.


As the poem begins, "Nothing to open. I cast them in order," it finishes with "I don't need any other keys. I don't want to know." The poet has come full circle to the present, and finding no divinatory keys to the present, he decides he doesn't want them anyway.


I don't know if I've done justice to the full round of complexity in these poems; they're not difficult to read, but they're intellectually heady, exciting. Especially in the first two sections, I find a poet and writer ready to take us out of our comfortable norms and try to show us something new. That's really as much as I can hope for in a poem or a book of poems. I'll look forward to whatever Ferry does next.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg  We saw a deer through the pane into someone else’s yard. The leg moved like a tube sock pinned to the hip  and half filled with sticks. I did not like to see it suffer, either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped  the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction  of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true.  We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet  in those moments of a cold November day, we watched  a doe, disabled and enduring, walk across a yard and eat  a hedge. I wish she could have seen it like that. Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline,

Beneath the Chickenshit Mormon Sun by Bruce Embree

I've posted this before, on a depressing day probably just like this one. This poem makes me feel better. That's all I have to say on that. It turned out worse than I thought The champion defended his title then Eldridge Cleaver came on to talk about his reasons for becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Grandma and I damn near fell out of our chairs Went to town and got crazy drunk Came back home, called you long-distance after cruising and drooling Mainstreet again This is my last wish and love poem It is as follows Want to hold the wake at noon with plenty of acid and rum No friends and relatives Ghost music by Hendrix and the Byrds drowning all sound as you fuck me to dust beneath the chickenshit Mormon sun. Links:  http://www.limberlostpress.com/authors/161embree1.html

Maureen O'Leary

Grief (for J’uan) Maybe we turn into clouds of reefer Particulates coating the lungs of the people thinking about us First and secondhand smoke Clinging to the frizzing gray locs of the women mourning us Or maybe we are in the splashes of Hennessey Swirling in the bottoms of Styrofoam cups A bad burn in the throats of our brothers Something to remember us by On the way back up. Maybe we are still here. In the way the candles keep going out In the way they call out to God. If they only looked up they could see our eyes Shining through the branches and glittering through the haze Below the stars. Maureen O'Leary lives in Sacramento, California. Her work appears in Coffin Bell Journal, Bandit Fiction, The Horror Zine, Ariadne Magazine, and Sycamore Review. She is a graduate of Ashland MFA.