In this latest installment of pleasantly unadulterated madness that we here at Atticus Review like to call our Poetry Feature, I’m thrilled to present the work of Jackson Burgess. These poems immediately snagged my attention with their imaginative leaps and frank social commentary (often couched in gallows humor). Jackson has a unique way of slicing clean through that psychic numbness that can sometimes cloud our brains after years of reading, the result being a kind of revelatory jolt to the senses.
For instance, I almost dropped my own coffee when I read these lines from “Puncture Wound”: “In June they dredged the lake and found three corpses. / I imagine them like sugar in the bottom of my coffee.” I figured he couldn’t possibly top that but just a few lines later, he does (“I’m bleeding inside / and I don’t know why. I wear my skin like a bad joke”).
“Deconstruct” is another fabulous poem that lassoed my attention with the gritty juxtaposition of its first three lines (“Somewhere in the world a boy / is getting a blowjob and somewhere / a girl is gritting her teeth…”), though I think what will haunt me the most is the image of the narrator trying to reassure himself that he exists (a kind of postmodern cogito ergo sum) while studying his own skin.
Being a longtime sucker for social commentary that favors artistry, imagery, and brevity over long-winded pontification, I was immediately drawn to “The Poor” and “On Celibacy,” too. They exhibit Jackson’s startling, energetic play with language and further emphasize that here is a poet we should keep our eyes on. (Hmm, that sounds kind of ominous. Well, I mean it in a good way.)