by Gregory Sherl
Prose as poems as diary entries: Gregory Sherl's Monogamy Songs is all of these things, yet something else entirely. Although it is well-written, sometimes its truths are a bit difficult to bear.
"There is no ordering sequence to my heart," Sherl writes in the prologue. "Most of the present tense should be in the past and all of the future tense shit will probably never happen." Still, he manages a Side A and a Side B — the woman who is so good, yet so difficult, and the times she is gone. Between and through these moments, there are attempts at numbing the panic and sadness. Sometimes, these attempts fail.
Never have I ever walked into a room feeling brave. I drink flower water and bloom the sun. Dehydration sets in, which brings night, which brings frogs, which hop toward the lights above apartment doors. If Hell exists, I don't want to know God. Never have I not missed Z. In every poem I have yet to write I am hoping she shows up with a glass of flower water, two hearts saying mush mush mush. It's too hot to see our breath but we're still alive, so we know it's there.
Monogamy Songs is 130 pages of racing thoughts and half-executed plans, and admissions of just-told lies: "I like calling her Z even though her name starts with a letter that goes after J.
What I found particularly honest were the attempts to fuck themselves better. The magic of endorphins were enough — "we repeat this until we don't" — to keep the loneliness at bay. "My heart is a flashing VACANCY sign above my thighs."
There are songs that are love letters to Valium, love letters to Vicodin, to salt, to skin, to '80s childhood memories. These are poems unlike any other poems, I think. I want to love them, but loving them means loving the deep, darkest parts of myself, and I'm just not there yet.
Ryan Adams will never be Elliot Smith.
Ryan Adams is still alive.
A realization: I will never be everyone once.
A realization: I may not know what to do with myself sometimes, but I'd rather not be anyone else.
Immerse yourself in Monogamy Songs, but be prepared to know and feel too much.
Full Disclosure: Future Tense Books sent me this. I thank them for the gesture and I will continue to be fair with my reviews.