Bill Yarrow has somehow figured out a way to cage chaos. Pointed Sentences (BlazeVOX, 2012) is like a trip to the future, where poetry has evolved into an ever-shifting being. His words defy categorization or replication, and Yarrow is not afraid to let his poetry wander wherever it wants to.
The poetry collection is split into three parts: Florid Psychosis, Startle Reflex, and Knot Eye. Each of these sections have poetry that turns conventionality on its back through the playful juxtaposition of words and situations. Take “The Tapeworm of Selfish Mammon Eats All the Good Will in the World,” for example:
“She caretakes, he takes care
She is inclusive, he feels occluded
She takes on all comers, he takes on all commerce
She’s out on a limb, he’s still on the lam…
She begs to differ, he begs to defer…”
The relationship between these two create humor, but there is also something deeper in the complication between these two characters that calls for a closer re-reading of the poem. Many of the poems in this book call for a careful re-reading, as Yarrow is truly a master of his craft. His work is clever, and deep, and only made more powerful in the willingness he has to go where his mind lets him. His work transcends titles like narrative or lyrical, although we are still bound to those words for description. His poetry simply exists, each poem its own universe—some funny, some surreal, some fantastical.
The narrators in Yarrow’s poetry add to the depth and complications of the pieces as a whole. “Annulling the Future,” is perhaps one of my favorite pieces, as it blends the bodily presence of a bride with the abstract complexities of existing and romantic relationships.
“If you can’t consummate tomorrow
You may as well just annul the future.
That bride is a stick risk anyway.
Look at her—ruffles in all the wrong
Yarrows words are immediate, and they create a narrator that is hard to ignore.
Yarrow’s narrative poetry is a complex as a novel, and as beautiful as his lyrical poetry. “Magritte,” from the first section of Yarrow’s collection, particularly spoke to me.
1.Introduction to Magritte
I pick Magritte up from the bottom of a star.
He is desolate with lavender.
“Who is it?” he moans, touching my wrist
With his wing. I help him to his feet, careful of his cedar leg.
Behind his grimace he is smiling.
Like a man drowning in warm water.
The story itself, although fantastical, has a unique familiarity. Coupled with the beauty of the imagery and the poignancy of the story.
These sentences are truly pointed. They are sharp enough to puncture the skull and dig around in your brain until they find the grey matter and latch on for life. Pointed Sentences is intricate, but also funny and accessible at the same time. This is the book the future wants you to read.