Sean Kilpatrick's fuckscapes
(Blue Square Press, 2011: 86 pages)
reviewed by Chris Vola

It is difficult to imagine even the most orthodox technophobic hermit not being at least a little afflicted by the smiling, foamed-over corporate sheen that has inundated all aspects of, as we have come to know it, the Americana of our collective minds. Under the guise of political correctness and Disneyfied jabber, sex and violence are openly touted in the form of sleek personal devices and candy-coated web browsers, the pervasive crush of advertising, and "family friendly" network programming projected on the brightest HD screens. Time Square's freakish luminescence foisted in the broadest swashes possible. But for every slicked-down dream of saturation, there exists a vicious underbelly, a realm where seething erotica and brutish misanthropy remain at the forefront of every thought, where the real impulses guiding what has become a truly sinister modernity are lain naked and extracted in chillingly disjointed yet brilliant and indelible detail -- the fuckscapes we are all milked to carry within us. In his eponymous collection of poems, Sean Kilpatrick bravely eviscerates himself by entering this plane head (and cock) first. He returns with a breathless bog of image-ravaged verse, equally remarkable for its zeitgeist-vomiting pervasiveness as for its ability to probe the vilest juxtapositions and emerge with constructions that are as disturbing as they are strangely transcendent. A frantic and complex triumph of transgressive literature.
At first glance, the poems in fuckscapes read like the internal monologue of a dyslexic yet highly imaginative Tourette's sufferer with a dual degree in pop culture and gynecology. Little regard is shown for punctuation or syntax in this stream-of-surreal-blasphemy, where eyelids are fondled by noose aficionados, where guns shoot ejaculate like embalming fluid, where it is perfectly normal for one to ask a colleague to "knife your cum into my sinuses / I will gargle out portraiture of us smiling." Grotesque visions of impossible genital mutilations are as omnipresent as the narrators' delight in infestations of "alzheimer's piping a tangle / humped cute by girljuice nylon." An easily jarred reader might quickly cry misogyny, but Kilpatrick doles out bodily violence on an equal-opportunity scale, featuring psychotic narrators both male and female. Entangled amidst the densely packed verses, and inundated by a constant showering of smegma, sperm, scalps and abortion residue, one cannot help but wonder if we're dealing with full-blown hatred of the highest order, Sartre at his grouchiest with the slick-jawed resolve of a Gen-Y Patrick Bateman. That's too simple. Kilpatrick is providing the reader with a complete, fascinating (albeit highly fucked up) cross-section of the darkest -- and I'd argue, most interesting -- parts of a shared psyche in this far-from-stable era. What impresses me the most about the poet is his ability, in just a few lines, to convey a panorama of searing emotions in a language that is as adventurous as it is sonically beautiful and arresting:

sometimes I pluck my castration stitches like a banjo
whispers groin the chord of every scar
called wife may all her cancer be inoperable
whose pubic straw about such talking flexes
I built this house whose tongue along bright slithers
come speech impediment louder than bible
session sneeze until my wounds reopen
wallpaper cunt in envious spit the glory
of marriage all its bureaucratic fluid exchange
loving someone is a fearful routine

It's all here -- fear of death, emasculation, loss of identity, the politics of romantic entanglements and the frustration they cause, the strokes of disjointed-life-as-squalor told in the confusion in which it's lived. Read aloud. It rolls.
In a collection so dismissive of formal construction within the verses themselves, Kilpatrick takes delight in messing with a wide variety of both surprisingly classic and raucously post-postmodern forms: his twisted dabbling in scatological odes, all-caps text message conversations in which one person reminds the other "YOU'RE NEARLY PAST YOUR ROCK STAR DEATH DATE," court transcripts "covered in his AIDS dance screaming someone else's name," cover letters admitting to mannequin rape, short plays that bemoan and demolish a not-so-young-anymore generation without a clue as to "why we collectively never produce or contribute." These variations and amalgamations maintain a commonality in relentlessness, the same bullet-blasted tone, aspects of some of the most vicious and ingrained cycles in humanity's current mire. The choice to position the "plays" as the very last pieces in the book is, for me, an apt one, as they fully encapsulate the unique realm and mantra oozing uncontrollably from Kilpatrick's fingers. The message, if there is one, may be one not easily digested by your average American escapist junkie: that the culture-mongers have already succeeded in creating a state of surface-level passive numbness, where the unsavory but vital emotions and bodily functions are utterly repressed and left to simmer, allowing monsters to grow, unchecked in the undercarriage. Perhaps the poet is imploring us (smartly) to peel back the exposed flesh and release the festering energy, to embrace the notion that denial is something to be screamed at and stomped out at all costs. That salvation might only be possible by embracing the fuckscapes, both personal and collective, that lurk in even the most outwardly chaste mind. After all, "Suicide is the only option. Whether you commit it or not."