By Lynette G. Esposito
Rustin Larson’s poetry volume Slap offers a wide variety of poetry lengths, forms and images. Published by Alien Buddha Press, it is ninety-two pages of insightful messages in poetic form.
For example, the poem Four Steps on page twenty-four, creates in thirteen stanzas, a situation of how many steps lead away from home when at the train stop and what it represents. Larson turns this image into the constant life journey of taking steps to all the doors that lead to or away from home.
Four steps, please. Four steps
into the train’s platform
in the middle of the night.
Four steps before you trip
and fall down the basement.
Four steps into the bower
of wild roses. Four steps in fever
into your mother’s arms
in the cool kitchen of your childhood. Four steps
Larson has used the image of four steps and varied situations to portray how close so many things in life are and what a difference this makes. His exquisite use of the F sound and his skillful use of repetition control the poem to the closing single-line stanza:
steps from all the doors you called home.
In contrast to this lengthily poem, Larson presents a little humor in his one- stanza, five-line poem Discard on page thirty-two.
Although I might be a discard,
like the man who believes
I say to myself
I am not alone.
The brevity of the poem does not reduce its effectiveness. It takes a twist on the concept of the populace of Earth seeking other intelligent beings in other galaxies and looks clear sightedly at those who are perceived as discards on this planet. I find this poem hilarious.
When the Shark Bites, is a one stanza poem on page sixty-two that presents a moment-in- time when Larson remembers having burritos with his daughters at Taco Bell in Iowa City and when his one daughter was little, how he put her to sleep with an unusual song. He begins the poem with:
Not to disagree with the song’s lyrics
but sharks don’t have
molars. They rip and swallow
rather than grind and chew. It’s
a fine point, but important I
It is interesting that he begins this poem with facts then throughout the poem remembers wonderful instances with his children. He brings a time frame in, 1996 and calls it a premium year. The poem suggests it is about one thing but when Larson calls his daughters my little sweethearts the reader can feel how full Larson’s heart is remembering this time with his daughters. It is a skillful poem with musical references that some of a certain age will appreciate.
Slap is an interesting tome with some poems being stronger than others. The poems vary widely in subject matter and with interesting twists. It is well worth a read while sitting in a comfortable chair.
You can find the book here: Slap
Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.