Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bad Animals — Tom Cull (Insomniac Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Bad Animals.  Tom Cull.  Insomniac Press.  London, Ontario.  2018.


Every single poem Tom Cull writes is a different type of gold.  Bad Animals had Today's book of poetry going in poetry circles.  This cat can burn.

Today's book of poetry is going to start today's festivities with one of the finer list poems we've encountered in a long while.  It seems Cull can whip these wild musings into movies that attack the inner cortex of your brain from all sides with skill approaching magic.

Preparing for Apocalypse: 13 Survival Tips

1.  No one will survive the apocalypse.

2.  In addition to anything starring Will Smith, consult the 
following movies: Deep Impact, Melancholia, Armageddon,
Waterworld, WALL-E, 28 Days Later, and Eat
Pray Love.

3.  Add the following titles to your self-help library: anything
by Anne Coulter, Blood Meridian, Roughing It in the Bush, Not
Wanted on the Voyage, and Les Revenentes.

4.  Replace GPS with GSP.

5.  Audition for the following reality television shows:
Survivor, The Biggest Loser, Hell's Kitchen, Naked and Afraid,
Polyamory, Married & Dating, Real World, Deadliest Catch,
Full House.

6.  Compress your vocabulary—remove words such as
ambivalent, ecopoetics, neo-liberal, and crepe.

     i(a). idiom. Literalize your metaphors (open a can of worms,
     eat slow food, put a ring on it, issue trigger warnings, make a
     killing, beg to differ, cross that bridge, etc.).

     i(b). diction. Prepare for shifts in word definitions: glacial,
     for example, will mean "very fast." Koodo, Google, Hulu, and
     Snapchat will become onomatopoeia.

7.  Know when to follow; know when to retweet.

8.  Trade in Apple, BlackBerry, Tinder, and Kindle for apple,
blackberry, tinder, and kindle.

9.  Loot anthropology museums for supplies. (Didactic panels
may also prove helpful.)

10.  Refrain from correcting improper usage of personal
pronouns I and me.

11.  Stay limber; work on your cardio. When shit gets real,
remember tip #1 and/or Will Smith in Bad Boys II.

12.  Get comfortable with killing. Start small—a worm, maybe a
mayfly—then move up to vertebrates. Don't always choose ugly
things. You will get the hang of it.

13.  Make a list dividing the people you know into columns A and 
B. When the time comes, you'll know what it's for.


Tom Cull is a new age poetry Tom Robbins, Kurt Vonnegut, long winded but smarter Richard Brautigan and that crazy old insurance company's wild life documentary narrator.  All in one, and more.  What Today's book of poetry is so clumsily trying to say is that  Mr. Cull hits every poetry nerve receptor we have and calls out a few we didn't know we had.

It's as simple as this — Tom Cull's poems explode off of the page propelled by intelligent wit and a fantastically agile and humane closet of frailties.

Mr. Cull, who is apparently also an ornithologist/zoologist of the highest order, is also unhinged in the best possible way.  Tom Cull is not wired like the rest of us.  As a result he is perfectly placed to objectively cut through our human nonsense, all our bullshit.

Show and Tell

Dead man in a box
inside a larger box.
With us.

Moving down a mile-long line
of pylons on the 401,
a hawk folds and dives behind
a row of cedars.

A stack of sandwiches,
devilled eggs,
tarts, and coffee.
"I'm a man of few words."
The dead man replied, "Yes but you use them
all the time."
The season is fall.
He leaves. For days
he leaves. Moaning and terrified.

The hospice nurse asked, "Have you
been able to return to
any of your normal activities—
light housework, cooking,
laundry?" His reply: "I have a wife."

The child in the spotted dress
hides behind the coffin, and the bruises
fade yellow.


Those of you Today's book of poetry fans with long memories will remember that Today's book of poetry wrote about Tom Cull's beautiful Baseline Press chapbook What the Badger Said back in June of 2014.  You can see that here:

Today's book of poetry had nothing but admiration for Mr. Cull's BadgerBad Animals is a step into the big league and Cull has made it a head-turning giant step.

Our morning read was held out on the porch for the first time this year, all bright sunshine and promise.  Today's book of poetry asked the crew to dedicate today's reading to Toronto playwright and most excellent man, Andrew Batten (1963-2019).  Andy loved poetry.

The Today's book of poetry staff responded with gusto.  Our morning read of Tom Cull's Bad Animals was the best we've had around here since we blasted through David Lee's last book.

Today we're going to finish the proceedings with another smashing "list" poem.  Thank you Tom Cull.

Invasive Species

European green crab
Purple loosestrife
Zebra mussel
Sea lamprey
Emerald ash borer
Gypsy moth
Sub-Saharan Zeus moss
Asian long-horned beetle
Giant hogweed
Asiatic carpe diem
Common buckthorn
Northern snakehead
Killer shrimp
Rusty crayfish
Brown spruce longhorn beetle
Mountain pine beetle
Sirex woodwasp
Dutch oven
Butternut canker
Common crested Brohammer
Japanese knotweed
Garlic mustard
Dog-strangling vine
Alfalfa blotch leafminer
Stuffed crust pizza
Prussian drone operator
Eurasian witch lemming
Holy Roman trebuchet
Oriental weather loach
Asian swamp eel
African clawed frog
Spanish slug
European yellow-tailed scorpion
Red-card slider
Water hyacinth
Gangis Kanye
Eurasian wild boar
Burmese python
Tyrannosaurus rex
Giant African land snail
Three-sceptred monarch
Herb-crusted salmon
Panko-crusted tilapia
Open-concept kitchen
Spotted eastern gulch
Barrel-chested man-child
Three steepled tree weevil
Right said Fred


Bad Animals is some of the best damned cooking Today's book of poetry has tasted, flat out.  Today's book of poetry loved these poems and assures you that given the chance you will love them too.  

They are that good.

Image result for tom cull photo

Tom Cull

Tom Cull grew up in Huron County and now resides in London, Ontario, where he teaches writing and serves as the city's current Poet Laureate. His chapbook, What the Badger Said, was published in 2013. Since 2012, Tom has been the director of Thames River Rally, a grass roots environmental group he co-founded with his partner Miriam Love, and their son Emmett.

"Like his black bears that have drifted too far south, Tom Cull's poems wander through a suburban wilderness, out of place, unpredictable, full of purpose, nosing among the wasting, surreal artifacts of human life, looking for sustenance."
     —Jeffery Donaldson, author of Missing Link

"Bad Animals sings a natural world rendered absurd by human hands. In the same line, the same breath, the reader can find grief and calm, folly and beauty, spectacle and longing, yet Tom Cull's poems always circle back to joy."
     —Laurie Graham, author of Settler Education

Tom Cull (8th Poet) | Open Mic Poetry May 3, 2017
Video: London Open Mic Poetry


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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