, February 09, 2014
“people have wondered about Frankenstein’s dick/ not the Dr. but the Monster”
These are the opening lines of Riot Act by Carl Miller Daniels. This is perhaps the best opening I’ve ever read in recent memory. In “alive” the first poem of the book, and perhaps my favorite (although I have quite a few in this chapbook) Daniels goes on to discuss the fatal flaw Shelly makes in her novel “Frankenstein”: how she didn’t inform the reader on the workings of the monster’s dick. How the book would have been so much better if Shelly had just told us about the monster’s dick. I never thought about the monster’s dick, but now that Daniels has mentioned it, I really can’t help but wonder about the monster’s dick. Another brilliant poem is “krebs cycle no ez A” in which there is a college student who can’t masturbate alone and enlists the help of a witness “Tex” to help him get the job done. The manner in which this superbly structured poem is written pulls you in like a fish net and captures you. It’s so dry and sarcastic and blasé you’d think you’re reading a recipe rather than a poem about two dudes jerking off. It’s absolutely hilarious, so is “they were mallards” a poem about ducks coasting on a pond, not about getting fucked by a big dicked teenage boy.
Carl Miller Daniels is the most unique poet I’ve read in years. His tone, and the wry way he narrates is absolutely unmatched. However, there are poems that delve deep into the heart, especially poems like “52”, “riot act” and ‘Virginia rant” which deals with the contemporary, governmental persecution of gays in the state of Virginia.
This short book isn’t long enough! Daniels gets five glimmering big gold stars for these one.