slap by rustin larson

Slap by Rustin Larson

slap

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.
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                 Four steps before you trip
                 and fall down the basement.
                Four steps into the bower
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               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:
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              steps from all the doors you called home.
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In contrast to this lengthily poem, Larson presents a little humor in his one- stanza, five-line poem Discard on page thirty-two.
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                  Although I might be a discard,
                  like the man who believes
                  in extraterrestrials,
                  I say to myself
                 I am not alone.
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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:
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                   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
                   think….
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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
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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.
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Two Poems from Rustin Larson

corn
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Slap
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It was confusing.  It’s
like getting on the wrong
bus and arriving at the
wrong school.  It will take
a morning of frantic phone
calls for your mom to find
you.  And then you still
might get a slap.
.
Well, it’s October now and I
still don’t care about baseball.
.
I feel maybe someone will give
me cartoonist trouble, holding
my life together with aspirin
and duct tape.  The fish
of words will swim through all
the paper.  Thanksgiving
is exactly the same up there,
except in October, and they
are still loyal to the Queen.
It’s like getting on the wrong
bus and arriving at the wrong
school.
.
Now, I have a handful of
believers.  The globe shakes
its oceans off onto the table,
and it is a wonder we
construct mail boxes out of
milk cartons; we send each
other Halloween greetings and
teeth like Indian corn.  Who
am I, your mommy?  Do
you want me to wipe your
ass?  The dirty man leaves
the telephone book alone.  We
get on the bus, relieved.  It’s
the wrong bus.
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Bats and Spiders
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I think I covered most of
the topics.  Not a lot has
happened to me.  I guess you
would say I’m a boring man.
I feel fortunate.  To be
honest, there are people I
detest, but they’ll get no
press here.  Bats and spiders
are in the air.  “Your
mother would never have
aborted you,” says my aunt.
Things like that get me
thinking.
.
The dead hand massages the
head of the spider and
the spider shivers.  The chimes ring,
“Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh.”
It is now 6:30
on the same day.  I forget
what plans I had.  I’m letting
it all ferment.  It is a
fine wine we have.  I couldn’t
tell you what the story was if
I tried.
.
The violin teacher came to the door
and looked at me sadly.  She
handed me the sheet music you
had forgotten at your lesson.
The love seat we had thrown
out of the house had been
removed from the curb.  All
the juices were being sucked
downward.  The witch’s hand
felt in her shaggy purse for
a coin.  We all had to live,
ya know.
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larson-rustin-pic
Rustin Larson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, North American Review, Poetry East, The Atlanta Review and other magazines. Crazy Star was selected for the Loess Hills Book’s Poetry Series in 2005. Larson won 1st Editor’s Prize from Rhino magazine in 2000 and has won prizes for his poetry from The National Poet Hunt and The Chester H. Jones Foundation among others. A five-time Pushcart nominee, and graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing, Larson was an Iowa Poet at The Des Moines National Poetry Festival in 2002 and 2004, a featured writer in the DMACC Celebration of the Literary Arts in 2007, 2008, and has been highlighted on the public radio programs Live from Prairie Lights and Voices from the Prairie. He lives in Fairfield, Iowa.
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