My accomplice is an animal, that’s why I often have an animal’s head.
—Karl Parker, from DESERT PLACE
Not everyone has the ability to bring us into their heads, but Karl Parker does, and it is a trippy, animalistic place. At 130 pages, Personationskin is a substantial book of poetry, and the poems within are successively, often simultaneously, apocalyptic, tender, naturistic, fantastical.
For instance, the fantastical and tender A Hospital-Bird describes the effect on hospital patients of the visit of A large bird wearing a hospital gown as the sick ones grew less tired, less borne down upon. This poem ends with a humorous, suitably understated discovery, which I wouldn’t spoil for the world.
Fog At Morning is at once apocalyptic and somewhat naturistic as it juxtaposes zombies and fog, again, humorously, yet tenderly, sadly:
Zombies appear in the mist.
They take you to the mall, where they make you try on clothes.
These are just two examples, but these poems are often skillfully hitting on multiple cylinders.
The book is divided into 3 sections, which could each stand alone as separate collections with unique sensibilities. The first, Costumes For a Complete Dance, presents mostly verse poetry, the second, Sunshine Prosthetic, is a collection of prose poetry, usually 2-3 to a page. The last section, Formal Entries & Horn O’ Plenty is a collection of verse entries followed by Horn O’ Plenty, an all caps collection of notes formed into a single loose work.
Karl Parker executes with intelligence, humor, and mastery of the language. I was impressed and moved by the majority of the poems in this collection– they are, as Parker puts it, in Plying the Vines, furiously involved and involving.
This book is really good, and I give it many odd citrus.