Last Night’s Fire… by Jesse S. Fourmy

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Last Night’s Fire and the Dwindling Embers of Evolution is the second short book in the fourth volume of the Lost Horse Press New Poets Series. Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Jesse Fourmy writes from his “government outpost on the Big Island [of Hawaii].”

These poems fuse a casual tone with a quirky outlook,  a deeper pathos always just beneath the surface. If Keanu Reeves could write poetry like William Carlos Williams, the result might read a bit like Jesse Fourmy. I assure you there is nothing quite like it.

Take the following passage near the end of “White,” for example:

…only one of us lost our virginity that year
and it wasn’t me and I wouldn’t for a few more
because I was scared and shy and disguised myself
valedictorian of wise-crackers and smart-asses
class clown performing in a room full of strangers
who had cars of their own and sped past me on their way
home or work depending on the season or the hour
and this was life in the middle eighties in Arizona
and don’t let me fool you, bud, it wasn’t that bad
if you’d been in prison or paid regular visits to
torture chambers the house I grew up in felt like
home…

Fourmy’s poems often take the form of a single long stanza, driving forward uninterrupted, while building on past references, down to an unexpected end. The two dream sequence poems, for example, end as “People rummage your pockets. Steal your things. / One your money. Another a photo of your wife.” and as “you plug into your radio and a woman’s voice / you’ve never heard doesn’t laugh or call your name.”

My favorite poem of the collection, “The Speed of Light,” which is broken into several stanzas, ends a “confession” to a former science teacher reflecting on the “cupric” smell of urine, “a warmth of fatted cows staring oddly at motorists for miles.” Urination is a recurring theme in this collection, “pissing” outside under “the weight of the stars,” relieving oneself as a substitute teacher between classes in the science room sink, or as a three-year-old in a caretaker’s lap.

This is a collection that reaches ad astra per aspera, neither smoothing over the rough patches nor losing sight of the starlight.

Last Night’s Fire and the Dwindling Embers of Evolution is available in New Poets | Short Books Volume IV from Lost Horse Press. Read more reviews from the Lost Horse Press New Poets series.

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