“You remind me that this is the way of things,
that heartbeats are not beautiful, a carnivore kind of organ that can
kill you or keep you alive”— Beth Gordon, “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning”
Morning Walk with a dead possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe
When Beth Gordon tells you in the first poem of her debut chapbook, Morning Walk With a Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe, that she is “inventing a new language,” she means it. Gordon’s poetry is what I love to read because it uses the kind of language that makes you sweat; the kind of language that makes your breath get caught up in your throat and forces you to ask whether you’ve been using words wrong the whole time.
Gordon’s collection passes between prose-poetry and verse, always keeping the reader on their toes. She challenges you to keep up as she breaks into lists, like in “While You Are in Iceland” or more familiar forms of free verse. Gordon is not simply inventing her own language, she is pushing the boundaries of form. She is a razor-sharp observer of both news reels and life before her and she makes sure that it is soaked into her poetry.
By the time I reached her last poem, “Dancing Barefoot in Mississippi,” I certainly felt as though I was dancing with her. I recommend Gordon’s chap to anyone who loves poetry that you can feel squeak between your teeth.