The best description of Rob Budde’s 2009 “declining america” comes from the author himself in “Tattoo”: “spreading a fanciful indulgence”. I suppose I could be accused of taking the quote out of context. Fair enough. If anyone wants to enlighten me on the actual context to the poem, though, I’m all ears. (Oh, context is a patriarchal anachronism, canon-fodder? Okeydokes.)
Not confident enough in letting his poems speak for themselves, Budde, in his “about the author” back-pages byte, reveals his credo: “He believes that counter-colonial, pacifist, anti-homophobic, anti-racist, feminist, and vegetarian thinking is the best path to planetary health. Rob was born in America but is working it out.”
The first section, “My American Movie”, eschews almost all punctuation for the (I suppose) creative diatribe of America as evil incarnate. It must take a particularly uncloudy mind to reduce the infinitely complex matrix of world politics and cultural interpenetration down to a blackened thumb over one specific section of the globe. I agree broadly (oops, is that sexist?) with some of his simple arguments, and disagree with others. However, there’s no nuance, context, expansion, or development in these viewpoints, which makes them uninteresting. But this is supposedly poetry, so let’s move on from the pulpit and enter the grove, study, or basement. Then again, the pulpit in this book seems to be portable, unfortunately.
“ “democratizing” the arab world into subservience a british imperial first strike toward a would-be world hegemonic megalomania it is not simply fantasy it is policy and legally (in florida at least) elected by corrupt business oligarchies so keep on trucking the expenditure for or against ruling all, cutting to the chase standing for thee”
And some people said subtlety went AWOL in contemporary poetry.
It’s not until Part Three’s “Assuming Depth” that the tap of poetics is cranked to full throttle.
"The word is combustible; odd, worn, ignored, and not absolutely sure of what it is referring to."
Thank you, third-hand Roland Barthes omniscient speaker.
"Passion, passive, past."
Smugness, mug, ugh!
This is easy, can anyone play?
Next section is titled “Software Tracks”. From “Rash”: “awry on the rocks”. Ha ha. How clever. A rye on the rocks. Get it? But wait. Wouldn’t the actual quote be redundant? Picky, picky.
The following poem is “Nausea”. Here’s an excerpt, without commentary. Enjoy! (Oh, I know, that word is now forever linked to capitalism’s phony fawning waiter bringing you the goose, stepping over the homeless people in the doorway, all of it cooked by illegal immigrants hectored all day on their twelve-hour shifts.)
"Unfashion-hypen-able. The real “thing”. Too much aboutism. Stand back. Let the subjunctive relieve the pressure, tantamount to contempt but the rain continues and there is no reason to stop. Categories everywhere and not one has galoshes. Debit card carrying unionist. No wonder lunch is hard. This is the end. Death synthesizes the least possible courage."
Would that the second-to-last sentence were so. But then I should be more mature and take Mr Budde’s advice from “Indices: Second Quarter Returns”: “it might just not be for you; let it go --” Or he could take his own advice vis-à-vis his caricature of America. There is some tag-end stuff to do with the idea that the tentacles of American culture have crossed the 49th and have already become ensconced in the Canadian psychological fabric. (Surprise! Olympics and an orgy of lumber.) It’s too late, I suppose. We’re all infected. At least barbeque season is over.