Only the Ground Is Bloodier Than the Sky: A Review of Joseph M. Gant’s Zero Division
by Craig Scott
Zero Division by Joseph M. Gant
Rebel Satori Press
To me, the best poetry is not gentle, safe or pretty. It is strange and dirty. It should leave the reader unnerved. It should feel like your brain has been dissected and rearranged. It should haunt you. Joseph M. Gant’s collection Zero Division is this, does this and more.
The first lines of “Where I Sit,” the first poem in the book, introduce you to Gant’s aberrant world and the ride you’re about to embark on:
the straight life
is a phantom of
a dream I’ve never had.
As I read this book I was reminded of one of my favorite lines from William T. Vollmann’s Rainbow Stories: “The prettiest thing is the darkest darkness.” Zero Division is a fine mix of odd and caliginous beauty. Take these lines from “Cancerous Sonnet For A Tumor”:
I shall collect as many cancers as my body gladly
let me be an example so hideous,
you’ll not want to touch me again.
Or these from “The Space That Makes The Past”:
let us sit, compare the scars
we’ve drawn across our skies
like charted constellations mapping history
of supernova lust
and rage, those galaxies born in dark disquietude.
But there are also these from “Pangs Of Days And Scissors’ Joy”:
in a red shirt I sleep in dreams of angels
of the soul and find a dozing superintendent at my
cold wet feet as springtime births unfold
and fold again
And these from “Biology”:
we are cold architecture, drawn
by unwilling fingers—meat and bone,
drunk and full of ghosts, warm whiskey
and misguided notions of creation’s absolution.
Gant’s poems are part fever dream, part broken-glass-in-the-eye reality. In “Reexamined,” we are told:
saviors aren’t built to die
for if they were
we’re in for shit.
While in “Xmas Morning” Gant confesses:
I hate the way
my cigarette tastes
when you’re mad
and I’d just eaten
And in “Down At The J And Flying” we learn:
trannies love to mug
you ‘til you learn to love it too. just pull in slow
between two trailers, flick the lights off and on and pray,
Personal favorites, besides those mentioned herein, were “Suck,” “Insertion,” “All The World” and “Bury Me In These Boots.” You are sure to find plenty of your own.