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by Marie Buck

There is no other book quite like Marie Buck’s Goodnight, Marie, May God Have Mercy on Your Soul. Its tight economy of language and demotic vocabulary imply an almost diaristic simplicity. Any normality you might expect is interrupted and overwritten by recurring images of fantasy, transfiguration, and violence.

Goodnight, Marie, May God Have Mercy on Your Soul vacillates between the real and the not. Each poem turns on a dime between the logical and the illogical, with poems beginning in “a Room of Salted Flesh” and ending at the beach; or introducing a family having breakfast and culminating in a celebration over champagne in an in-between land of ghost and ghouls, desires and fears. Buck’s aleatory carrousel of subject matter and bizarre scenes creates a contradictory, complex subjectivity, “…the type of person who would… / eat part of a sandwich from a very legit-seeming Italian place / and immediately puke into a trash can / about 10 seconds after telling a chatty stranger how great the sandwich is.”

For all its oscillation, Goodnight, Marie, May God Have Mercy on Your Soul has at its center Grox, whose presence as a reptile-god-protector-provocateur accompanies and haunts the speaker throughout the text. His presence flickers through the book’s many changing parts. “So I guide Grox’s toes to the oceanside / and hold my sports bra up with my mouth and pretend it’s a megaphone,” Buck writes in “The Public’s Century,” encapsulating the strange pseudo-sexual partnership she shares with him. Grox’s mysterious presence coupled with his matter-of-fact appearances emblemizes Buck’s ability to be both pedestrian and mystical, hilarious and unnerving, hopeful and dark as she pulls at the cords of fantasy that tether our isolated daily lives to larger historical arcs.

People are Saying:

Marie Buck's poems describe a more perverse and therefore honest Americana, where, alongside casseroles and Lassie Come Home, everyone is also constantly drooling and watching you urinate, and hallucinated reptilian surrogates hungrily stalk the peripheries of your family vacation. These and other anecdotes unfold through an aperture of shifting literary filters—sometimes memoir, sometimes surrealist sci-fi fantasy, often both—that, like a form of spirit photography, makes present a frighteningly uncertain image of our current political situation: half-formed and leering, its decrepit hands gesturing out of the ether, beckoning to us, "the audience, / an audience that / also participates / against its own / freakish will."
Josef Kaplan

In Goodnight, Marie, May God Have Mercy on Your Soul, Marie Buck creates a meaty, surreal universe where “reality” and “fantasy” are indistinguishable. Based in a casual vernacular vocabulary, these poems wander through a post-apocalyptic USAmerican underworld that feels eerily like the present. Equal parts alienated and angry, this is a writing watching affects express themselves rather than claiming to authentically experience and represent them. Buck narrates our “doom balloon” as the rabid abyss it is, but in her adept hands, the abyss is compelling and often hilarious. This book taught me about merkins, maggots, cheeseburgers, baby bats, regular kissing, and dreams, as well as Buck’s ability to craft some seriously strange, engaging poems for our “permissionless. // And pensionless” world.
Alli Warren

Marie Buck is the author of Life & Style (Patrick Lovelace Editions, 2009) and Portrait of Doom (Krupskaya, 2015). She curates the online literary section of Social Text, where she is also managing editor, and recently completed a doctoral dissertation on newspapers, pamphlets, and other writing of the Black Power and Women’s Liberation movements. You can find some of her recent poems and essays in Theme Can and Prelude. She grew up in South Carolina, spent time in western Massachusetts and Detroit, and currently lives in Brooklyn.

108 pages
ISBN: 978-1-931824-70-5
Publication date: April 2017


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