See the entire review, here. I include but a fragment:
we / cum ::: come / in the yield fields / amongst statues with interior arms by j/j hastain
(above / ground press, Ottawa, 2012)
The yellow cover, as you can see, is thinner than the interior pages, beginning with that pale lavender page. It's as if the cover cannot contain what is inside. It's a perfect visual metaphor for how so many of hastain's poems -- including this chap-length one -- work: the poems reach out for engagement and often succeed. I love this highly-effective cover design!
we cum ::: come ... powerfully presents a fresh (read: fleshly-intelligent) spin on the love poem as well as the erotic poem. For instance, this excerpt:
Innervations of post-threshold threshing. Wanted all of your tattoos to be of wanting. Wanted you to come in my eyes so I could see. This dependency on ether-lipids. It matters to note that since then, we have never washed our sheets.
This poem, like many of hastain's, is enervated by the desire to create new worlds that go beyond gender as a reductive binary:
What other taunts in place of chronology or normativity?
Minarets seeping from ephemeral loins.
The language is paradoxically smooth -- the text flows so smoothly and yet carries a punch!
One should acknowledge the significance of the image on the front cover (palms with holes in their centers) as well as the epigraph:
"there is a word for incomplete and it begins inside" - Nathalie Stephens Touch To Affliction
To me this means that as hastain explores the creation of a new trans-(reductive) gender world, the explorer must be rooted with the explorer's interior (including naturally the psychological). (Perhaps the base for such a search cannot be the exterior when the birthed body often cannot encompass the individual's identity.) It is that search (for completion?) that makes for such a moving result. Yet hastain wisely avoids solipsism because so much of what hastain writes is also clearly inclusive of an Other, often the erotic partner.
In one section hastain writes, "In an attempt to get home we never rest." I first responded selfishly to that by hoping the poem's persona or hastain never gets "home" because the attempt generates such wondrously alchemical results -- for example, how this same section ends with
Multiplicitous labors to upkeep divergent foundations. Fecundations. We believed in veer. Tactics and tacits. Creamy ratios. The moon was this world's first cave.
But, more importantly, the phrase is "...we never rest" not "...I never rest". hastain may be depicting an interior passage but what hastain's opened up as a possibility is that there is/are others within one and it wouldn't surprise me if hastain would be open, too, to being part of other's or others' interior explorations. A "hole" -- as is the case with certain Native American weavings -- represents a space for entry by others...
If the hole is within a proferred hand rather than more obvious alternatives, isn't the offer more intimate? More difficult to resist ... more easy to accept...?