Matt Rasmussen. FINGERGUN. Kitchen Press: 2006. $5.
“Suddenly and Suddenly”: All Those Important Moments—
The delicate compression of Rasmussen’s narrative & clear-headed voice in FINGERGUN carefully & discretely amp up the emotional power of these lyrics. Here there are moments considered, juxtaposed, and then held up “against a future/that never arrives.” Rasmussen locates the power of his work
In the moment between
and what doesn’t […]
(“Suddenly, the Poem Is”)
Figuring out how this poetry works is the key to its heart, really, which is deep & complex. The work throughout this sharply designed book demonstrates a range of earnest sentiment presented as a plea. These things happened & are crucial but they just as easily could not have happened & what would have happened in place of that happening would be just as crucial. Each poem is, then, a kind of question: does what I’m feeling make sense to you? Is it ok to feel this way? Is there something else I’m missing?
“Please read this and tell me/how much it moved you” (“Titled”) is both a central question for the speaker & an ultimately unimportant one. It’s as if the sensibility here needs support & an acknowledgement of human-ness. But it is that moment of bare & open address that resonates, that purely hopeful need for connection.
A poem like “Dream after Suicide” is a good example of the shifting registers in these poems, a kind of scenic estrangement shackled to this plain spoken emotional depth. Here, the speaker deals with the image of his brother “in the refrigerator light/drinking milk that poured/out of his head.” Such a jarring juxtaposition forces the reader to reconcile the quotidian nature of the scene with the shockingly macabre figure of the brother. Except the moment is decidedly not macabre or sensational, or even especially pitiable. It’s all presented in a matter of fact tone, a diction that is equally suited for dealing with the apparition of the brother as it is the weekend sports scores. The main concern here is connection:
I wanted to put my finger
into the hole,
feel the smooth channel
he escaped through[…]
These poems show that the future never arrives because it is always becoming the present, something we can’t consider & prepare for but must live & live through.
--Review by Nate Pritts.