Tuesday, May 23, 2017



Stop Armageddon by Howard Yosha
(Moria Books’ Locofo Chaps, Chicago, 2017)

            It had to happen at some point. Memes were eventually going to make their way into the poetic sphere, and while I am unsure if this is the first attempt at putting them in a chapbook, I can say with absolute certainty that it is the first time that I have encountered them. Their appearance here raises a thousand questions, but I only have the space to cover a few, so here we go.

1.     How can claiming that a vote for Hillary would save us from nuclear Armageddon? Okay, so I get it. Trump threatened to force Mexico to build a wall at nuke point. Trump went against every moment of rational thought as it pertains to foreign policy when he refused to take nukes off the table against China, North Korea, Russia…you name it. Trump forced the hands of the nuclear clock forward. Blah, blah, blah. The second meme needs to be called out here because people on the left need to come to terms with the fact that Hillary Clinton was neither a working-class candidate or anything short of a neoliberal war monger. Stopping problems like trump in the first place happens, in part, through self-crit and education.

2.     While the top two movie-poster themed memes are hilarious, the bottom one is troublesome in the fact that it promotes body-shaming. The left either has to accept that using the same tactics as a demagogue such as Trump is acceptable, or they have to take this method of attack off the table completely.

3.     If the “we” in the yellow poster means we in the sense of humanity, and not just privileged white bourgeois Americans, then the same poster can be applied to Hillary, Obama, Bush, Clinton, and every other neoliberal president of the last 80 years, save for perhaps Jimmy Carter.

What upsets me the most about this volume is that the poetry, while fantastic, gets lost in the too-broad message of the memes that precede it. Yosha spares no vitriol towards the President, declaring in the first line of Stop Armageddon that “Civil War II is a fight of protest against Trump.” In Boycott The Inauguration of Trump, the poet states what will happen if we all resist Trump, from day one: “Return the idiot, the clown, the liar, the toucher, to Trump’s hell.” Finally, in This is the time to impeach Trump… Yosha gives us a direct call to action: “We Americans all have faith and belief in our heritage/Trump stands against all that is good and holy/He must be stopped.”

It is my sincere hope that the poet lays off the memes and focuses more on the poetry. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but Yosha’s words mean far, far more than his memes.


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.

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