Monday, November 6, 2017

Escape from Wreck City - John Creary (Anvil Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Escape from Wreck City.  John Creary.  Anvil Press.  Vancouver, British Columbia.  2017.

The morning read at the Today's book of poetry offices was a smoking affair.  Some of the poems from John Creary's Escape from Wreck City left literal smoke stains and lipstick smears all over the place.  Others merely flushed cheeks, warmed some collars.

Escape from Wreck City is a chuck e weiss meets Sal Paradise linguistic salad tossed with heavy vibrato and exactly the right amount of vinegar.


This is a story of mouthwash and double-jointed coitus.
It's all carpet, lip gloss and the crevasse of your jeans.

I'm frantic to park this white car in the shadows,
eager to massage the blouse off your shoulders, early

before the cold feet come cock blocking through the vents
of the dashboard, pulling your ass into a world of what-if's

and long after school specials on resisting feral instincts.
I once had sex in a blue Porta Potty. It was how you imagine.

Popping Viagra on the Ferris wheel, your tongue like cotton
candy, the carnie whipping us around faster and winking

wildly, his belt buckle a galloping black steed in heat.
Let's eat those snacks and go back to being naked acrobats.

I'm rising to the occasion, ready to be your treadmill,
perform these circus tricks, mastered by the cocaine stars.

It's like making music the way we flicker bareback
beneath the full moon, panting, our pulse pushing past

it's resting rhythm, unfettered. That's the doorbell.
Invite Pizza Joe in, ask him to dislodge me from the rafters.

Here, wear this fake nose-moustache disguise while I take
the clinic through the hardest lesson. I know what this looks like.

I'm up to my elbows in K-Y Jelly and you keep calling me
the astronaut. The neighbours are parting their lips,

smelling the dirty laundry and posting pictures of what must
look like The Worm from over there. I'm disheveled,

our seams slowly unravelled, your thighs like magnets,
my disco balls all aglitter. Let's wash, rinse and repeat, again,

make the most of these wet dreams, but, Baby, who
the hell is Humpty Dangle? I've bounced back, groping

for a reason to care as our faces melt in this candlelit
sweatshop. Let's eat more pomegranates, whisper

our wishlists into cupid's canon, the squeeze play
in full orbit, our tongues raw and full of midnight hustle,

ready to burst the speech bubbles building off our grins,
mine -- something about bushwacking and the washing machine,

and yours -- well, your dripping mouth formed the letter
O in a big, buoyant font, over and over and over and over.


Escape from Wreck City is a couple of strangers wrestling under the coats at a New Year's Eve party or the argument  between the Stiletto Queen and her sad companion after too much coke and too little ginger.  It is a raucous affair.  These poems come at you like sniper fire, out of nowhere, extremely accurate and they blow your brains out.

These poems ripple at the edges and burst at the seams with the crowning heads of infants and kill lists, carnal countdowns and a league for men's toilet activities.

Escape from Wreck City

The things you mumbled
at your tattooist's

cold apartment
had little consequence.

You said the honour
of public greatness

is to be sweetly veiled
in pigeon droppings.

Having recently discovered
sherry you've forgotten

most of the last month.
Still, I'm enchanted

with how you let
the word Dubrovnik

roll around your mouth
like some forgotten

tonic. You sprawled out
in the witchglass

like a wounded insomniac
and this prism you insist

I window wash
has a crooked bullseye

slumped around a gross

of what it really means
to act like evil twins.

There is only one true
vandal; let your eyes

orbit around the room.
You're mumbling again;

it sounds like you're saying
I'm fond of windows.

We're moving inappropriately
through Amontillado,

lightly headed for a mile
wide in-limbo.

Do you ever want to poke
around in the sticky

ink of something more
intimate? Less rhetorical?

I'm an old car in mint
condition. You're marooned

in an equinox as the melon
queen of tattoo parlors.


John Creary doesn't seem to have a slower gear or a dimmer switch.  If he's driving it is full speed and right off the end of the cliff if necessary, with the lights on high beam, of course.

But man oh man oh man this Creary cat is one silver-tongued flim-flam trapeze high-flying crazy Wallenda carnie-barker.  There's as much entertainment in almost any poem you choose from Escape from Wreck City to keep the lights burning in a modestly sized town.

The Pigeons Flock in Awe

around the dozing statue, zzzzz
wide amongst open wings.

The long curtains, paralyzed,
twisting off worst thoughts,

head swelling in odd angles.
We keep one foot in a bronze

bucket. It takes many clocks
to build a proper pawnshop,

double bed in the back, dead
celebrities clipped and tacked

to the post. The prize today
is inadequate, a strangled half-

heart. But there goes the lifetime
collective, boarding the carousel

in some Eros frenzy, fainting
like patients out from the shadows,

this morning too by email.
We need fifty wizened hands

lampin' on this perch, perception
amiable, gold package edible.

It's borderless being born again
and then born again, bundled

as caricature with a pesky
erection and a black torn ego

topped full with a toothy
ambivalence poised to stale.

Tonight we sleep or celebrate.
Tomorrow, we begrudgingly

feet these stout-bodied birds
a taste of the new enormity,

carefully open the handcrafted
corridor and wait for the utterly

speechless. But of course
things are never that simple.


John Creary's first book of poetry reads like a run-away-train that you are glad to be on.  You want to pull down your safety glasses, hammer some more wood into that burner and go cat go, you want to smoke.

There's enough energy in Escape from Wreck City to entertain Elon Musk.

Creary will sneak up on you.  There are touching moments of parental bliss, everyday life captured like in one of those snow-globes you shake to activate.  Escape from Wreck City is one hell of a first ride out of the gate.

photo of John Creary
John Creary

John Creary has had his poetry widely published in Canadian literary journals including The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2011, Arc, Event, Grain, CV2, Fiddlehead, Vallum, subTerrain, and The Antigonish Review. He was awarded the Calgary Literary Kaleidoscope Undergraduate Award for Creative Writing in November 2008. Escape from Wreck City is his first book. He currently lives in Calgary.

“John Creary’s poems growl, roar, whisper, chortle, purr and shout. He’s a writer stoned on words, constantly surprised by what they can and can’t do. Language’s energy—clean, dirty, pulsing, spiking, minimalist—vibrates through Escape from Wreck City.”
— TOM WAYMAN, author of The Order in Which We Do Things



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.

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