by Jerome Spencer
Baby I’ve got filing cabinets full of dreams you wrote, my office is dripping with dream-juice, my hands are holding fresh dollar bills, ready to spend on you.
Describing poetry collections can get exhausting; it’s such a prolific and personal style of expression and it’s feckless to continue to create language and genres for it. I’m not stating this to imply that Big Bruiser’s style is indescribable, but rather that it’s just easier to avoid any attempt to put it in a box. It isn’t going to fit.
Foghorn Leghorn is a mystifying collection of weird little poems, running the full gamut of emotions and their complexities. BBDB writes in a conversational tone, his lack of pretense creating a sense of comfort and kinship as he casually spills his guts. While many of these poems are straightforward in their admission (Walking Through is particularly unfeigned), BBDB really shines when he utilizes humor – oftentimes borderline absurdity – to really get to the heart of the matter.
Gay Rodney Dangerfield, for example, is a satirical collection of homophobic dad-jokes and playground cliches that slowly and guilefully reveal the underlying pain of not feeling accepted or understood by those closest to you. And it hurts when you get there; it’s as if BBDB has duped his reader into empathizing with his inner struggle and there’s no way to back out. Similarly, 69 Remakes (all three parts) just start off as little quips – funny reinterpretations of popular movies that read like quirky tweets – that are reflections of the writer’s own reality, but also stunning observations about things we cant unsee. It’s not heartbreaking, it’s soul crushing.
Foghorn Leghorn is staggering in its power and sentiment, but mostly because the writing is so perfectly understated and nonchalantly devastating. The strength of the poems is in the restraint and the subtle delivery of what turns out to be brutal honesty. In the book’s forward, Sam Pink says this is “hurt shit” and it really is. It’s the way BBDB gets to that hurt shit that makes Foghorn Leghorn worth reading, though. So there’s no need to create language or genre for it, it’s something we can all understand.
Foghorn Leghorn is available now through Clash Books and the alternate title, Your First Real Boyfriend & Other Poems (complete with a suitable-for-work cover), is available through more conservative booksellers. But, you know, buy the rebellious version. Or just get both.