Rotten Perfect Mouth. Eva H.D.. Mansfield Press. Toronto, Ontario. 2015.
Eva H.D. is a conundrum.
I met her briefly at the book launch for Rotten Perfect Mouth here in Ottawa. Eva H.D.'s reading that night was as bad as any I've ever been to - and I still loved it. Couldn't help it. Her casual disdain for the audience and the poetry reading process was palpable, obvious and clearly stated - and we still all loved it.
She has the same tarantula charm as Val Kilmer's Doc Holiday. Crazy wisdom filtered through an eternally broken/bent heart.
What matters most is the startling poetry Eva H.D. writes. And my, oh my, does this woman write up a storm. Rotten Perfect Mouth had me yelling again. My head runs out of places to contain my enthusiasm for writing like this.
The sky never touches the ground but races it, forever and ever.
I am driving us home from the church,
away from the last of summer, through the
funeral dusk. There is no bend in the road.
She is riding shotgun, exhausted, curling away
from awful truths. Blowing smoke from a crack
in the window, eyes closed.
We are surrounded by wheat and corn,
just like people always say.
I can feel the farness in my muscles.
I can feel the love in my teeth, humming.
When we get home, we can have a drink,
uncoil, not talk about it. This is what we
I want to stop the car, walk out into the fields,
and lie down on the ground, flat on my back.
I want to lie flat out, not feeling it,
until forever lets me on for the ride.
Today's book of poetry will put Rotten Perfect Mouth up against all comers today. This poetry shines, I mean literally sparkles like fireworks in front of your eyes.
These poems intersect those tangent lines of cool, wise and charming.
I mean Miles Davis cool, I don't give a rat's ass cool.
Wise like Sharon Olds, wise like your smartest friend.
Charming, because fierce intelligence like this is always charming, whether Eva H.D. likes it or not.
Teenage Stuff Forever
You can continue doing this teenage stuff forever.
You can sit on the road in the perfect summer dark
and listen to a married man rail against the prison
he has built for himself. It's the same street where
you sat and smoked at fifteen, listening to a boy
describe his father's rage, the bruises, the lonely
why. They could be the same man. The man already
jealous of his toddling son, the boy cowering from
his father. It could be the same night, that June
damp, the desire to touch the face of someone beautiful
with your rotten, perfect mouth.
Damn it. I am trying to put on the brakes, curb my enthusiasm but Rotten Perfect Mouth is in Nora Gould, Kayla Czaga, Sue Goyette class.
If you buy one book I recommend, and you SHOULD be buying ever single one of these books I recommend, you can start with this one. Eva H.D. is not kidding around. Rotten Perfect Mouth hits like the first frantic riff of Eric Clapton's Layla - and once you read these poems, the melody will stay with you for a long, long time.
Wandering and orange as a flower,
pale as an orangeblossom,
fullstopped and transiting. Doves
in the gravel.
The cat is after a bird, claims Absal.
The bird is after, an afterthought
in the humming bushes,
a noise on the air that is not
A love song to the cats, then
the hibiscus, the cyprus, the
To the pink plastic lighter
and the pink tracksuits
in the market and the half-eaten
pastries and the schoolgirls and the Gauloises.
A toast to the homeless man
at John's Pizza six years ago,
the Chinese characters like marble beads &
the jade about my neck.
God, it's perfect,
the pink blossoms,
the pink afternoon.
Crates of wine stacked
the tale the muddy bank
of coffee tells
the china. I was here.
"Remember me"? I dare you to try and forget.
These poems are so packed with energy and weird precise knowing that you almost don't notice the cumulative emotional groundswell building.
Eva H.D. wields a sledgehammer like a scalpel. She isn't playing with the reader's emotions but she is sharing a complex palate of her own dismay and it is like riding a roller coaster of the heart designed with Edith Piaf aplomb.
Today's book of poetry and our entire staff could simply not recommend a book any higher than this one. It is instant required reading.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eva H.D. lives and writes in Toronto.
Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher. They are shown here for publicity and review purposes. For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.