Jan/Feb 2007  •   Reviews & Interviews

We Swallow(ed) Spiders in Our Sleep

Review by Cicily R. Janus

We Swallow(ed) Spiders in Our Sleep.
Zachary C. Bush.
Pudding House Chap Book Series. 2007. 31 pp.
ISBN I-58998-580-X.

"Stepping Through a Jet-Low," a small gleaming of words set low on a page deep in this small collection of works by Zachary C. Bush, he clearly sets his tone, mission and ideals:

Say goodbye to the unborn, and push
the Boat of the Dead to sea. Pray
as you watch it catch flame,
a small torch on the horizon.

Indeed, at the age of twenty-four, Bush is a torch lighting his path towards success in the community of emerging young poets. With works appearing in over three dozen independent literary journals and four chapbooks, with one more forthcoming and a full length collection of poetry that has yet to be published in the works, he is fast establishing himself as one of the hottest new voices in poetry. His new collection of thirty-four potent poetic works is available through Pudding House Press and their Chap Book Series.

With an evocative attitude throughout this miniature collection of works ranging from addictions to judgments of the very thing that makes us human—our soul or our very nature— Bush uses experimental turns of phrase and rhythm to provoke the senses. Words are not wasted upon these pages.

The title work, We Swallow(ed) Spiders in our Sleep, rings with the words:

and I am alone
Remembering the morning
When we moved into this house
Gnats sucked the sweat
Shine from your legs
Until they had their fill

Bush somehow finds the expressions in the seemingly silent moments we all experience. His works are not those of ramblings or rants or even of self-pitying "why-me" tales of love found and love lost. These are real upheavals of emotions poured out with true poetic license.

A particularly striking piece is the one titled, "In the Abandoned Hours of Morning." With a simplistic description, Bush addresses issues considered taboo. He uses a fluid abandonment of conventional manners with his words in the second and third stanzas:

From behind a bush
In my wooded yard
I watched a doctor
Step out their front door
His head hanging low
And when he let go
The knob was stained red

I ran to the side
Of the house to see
Through the cracked window
Red palm prints along
The hallway's white walls

Probably most telling about this assortment of poetry is the fact that there is not one poem that dwells on love, the subject of the wishy-washy feelings one experiences while in love, or even a hint that these are the ramblings of a young adult experiencing angst about the responsibilities placed upon his shoulders. So many collections are focused on the beauty of human nature and finding love that it is refreshing to find a book that resembles more the truth than not. This collection echoes the common repulsiveness of what makes us most basic: the addictions we fight, the sordid people we meet while walking the streets we live upon, the silent ones who sleep next to us, etc. Bush allows his words to take you over in such a fashion that one can only begin to understand his experiences. Already a master of his craft, his work is a gift to poets and readers alike.


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