Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Death of Disco

I've been reading Charles Jensen's chapbook, Little Burning Edens, winner of the Red Mountain Review chapbook award. It's a fascinating exploration of gay love, night-clubbing, the specter of AIDS, coming of age in the era of HIV:

"The sidewalks at night
in our most beautiful cities
are fraught and nervous with tics
of dead canaries. The surly hustler in his laceup jeans
feels a chilly rush of feathers at his neck
where his john
has bitten the skin through . . ."

from "Canaries"

"Everyone at the Cock
throws salt over a shoulder
at the bar. The floor gritty with it,
becoming bleached . . .
. . .
There are dead boys
inside us right now. Our own lightless lips
are ashen, burned inside out.

And later, in bed, one man touches
another man's face. The ghosts inside them touch.
The worst kind of love."

from "Gotham"

I love how the title Little Burning Edens can be read on several levels: Our lives and loves are "burning" with desire, with passion; or, they are burning out, crashing and burning. Our lives and loves are "little," meaning impoverished, or, perhaps, they are a small piece of paradise on earth, a "little Eden," a garden refuge in the endless steel and glass and cement of the city.

And I admire the humor that comes through amid the pathos:

" . . . this world
is just so dirty

and officially, they say
it's death for disco."

from "Dirty World"

It's a lovely chapbook. Printed as the center section of Red Mountain Review. Get your copy now!


In other news: a fascinating interview with Franz Wright in the current issue of Poets and Writers here.


Jim Kober said...

Good post. I enjoy your site.

Charles said...

Thank you for this. My stomach is all full of butterflies right now.

Sam of the ten thousand things said...

Enjoyed your post of and comments on Jensen's work. Thanks.