Saturday, May 6, 2017



(Moria Books’ Locofo Chaps, Chicago, 2017)

            Sometimes, I like to be confused. This senseless feeling of having everything on lockdown, every hour of the day, is both tedious and uninteresting. I also like poetry that, while willing to share a message, takes a few moments to go down a whimsical path, all while yelling childish psychobabble into the void. When I’ve picked up a manifesto in the past, I’ve prepared to read a historical document that has changed the way people have thought, or I’ve expected the ramblings of an incoherent madman, hellbent on the destruction of either those he cannot stand, or himself.
            The poet in question seems to do some of both. None of these five (or four) lined stanzas, all separated with a section symbol (which is this [§], a fact that I discovered after a Google search of alt-code characters) are titled, nor do they need to be. And while some seem to be the mad ramblings of either a chronic texter (“What’s the square root of wtf?”) or a confused grandma on a search engine (“Unpublish derivative literature”), other moments, like most of the recent family of Lofoco chaps, are direct shots at our buffoon-in-Chief. Some of these examples include “Instead of a constitution, a country founded on nursery rhymes”, “Do not ignore the man in the brown paper wrapper”, “Fire sale on antiquated beliefs”, “I wish the future would hurry up and get here”, and so on and so forth. Just as our president seems to be nonsensical and churlish, so, then, must the occasional poetic form that answers him be.
            The best part of this volume, however, are the subtle wordplays that dot the occasional page. For example, when critiquing poetry itself, the poet states that “If poetry books had more pictures people would be more likely to open then up.” Homage to the likes of Shel Silverstein, or a subtle dig at what the poet may consider gimmicky? I don’t pretend to know, but it’s a fun question to ponder. (By the way, how many of you missed that the line says “then” instead of “them”?) In other instances, we know he is playing with us, such as when he states “The tear in the fabric of the time-space continuum is a syntax malfunction.” Smooth Miekal, very smooth. In the end, however, even the poet has a little fun with the futility of his position atop the linguistic food-chain, as he brings all his haughty aspirations to heel with a simple thought: “If everyone I know is a poet, who will fix my toilet when it breaks?”
            To quote Marx, Miekal, you will. But I’m sure we’ll all pitch in to help.


From works for children to the macabre, from academic research to sports journalism, and from opinion essays to the erotic, M. Earl Smith is a writer that seeks to stretch the boundaries of genre and style. A native of Southeast Tennessee, M. Earl moved to Ohio at nineteen and, with success, reinvented himself as a writer after parting ways with his wife of eleven years. After graduating from Chatfield College (with highest honors) in 2015, M. Earl became the first student from Chatfield to matriculate at an Ivy League institution when he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. The proud father of two wonderful children (Nicholas and Leah), M. Earl studies creative writing and history at UPenn. When he’s not studying, M. Earl splits time between Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Chattanooga, with road trips to New York City, Wichita, Kansas, and Northampton, Massachusetts in between.

1 comment:

  1. Another view is presented by Matt Hill in this May issue at