tony moffeit | shaking the bones


is a review by Tony Moffeit on The Riddle of the Wooden Gun, by Todd Moore. 2009. 144 pp; Pa; The Lummox Press, POB 5301, San Pedro, CA 90733. $15.00.

i hold

todd moore’s new book in my hand and it is like holding a weapon. the words on the page are laid out like machine gun fire. in a world that is falling apart, the only thing that makes sense is your own kind of inner war, the inner war of the outlaw. in a recent essay of his, “The Nightmare of Poetry Is War,” todd moore writes:

“There are times when simple human emotions well up so powerfully and darkly inside the blood, you are left with just two choices. Write HOWL or ARIEL or CROW or DILLINGER or load a machine gun. Because nothing else will do. Nothing else will satisfy. Nothing else will oppose the violence in a violent world like a poem as dangerous as a Molotov cocktail with a short rag fuse that is lit and burning. Ultimately, writing poetry is nothing less than an act of total war. Only this is a war waged in and through the human psyche. This is a war fought in the ditches and the trenches of your worst nightmares. This is really what writing poetry is all about. This is what really defines Outlaw Poetry.”

in a revolution that is an anti-revolution, todd moore continually defines the battleground, the warriors, and the weapons. the weapon in this book is the wooden gun, the battleground is the riddle, and the warrior is dillinger. this book is dreamwave and death soup. it is also about a childhood of wooden guns and the kid as hero. it’s about the wooden gun as archetype and the poem as movie, the poem as novel, the poem as dialogue. it’s about the relentlessness of the outlaw spirit, the relentless spirit of todd moore.

holding todd moore’s book in your hand as a weapon, a machine gun, an archetype for firing bullet words, you are caught in the hurricane of the renegade. to read this book is to burn with the author, to blaze with the language. and war is not enough. the warrior must be on fire. that’s what writing poetry is all about. to be a writer, to be a reader of the miraculous realm of poetry and death and love and poetry and death. the warrior must cover the whole spectrum.

this book is a weapon against hard times. not since nietzsche has there been an outlaw statement of the pure will to power. when all external measures are unsatisfactory, the outlaw poet has nowhere to turn. “where do you get your power?” they ask. and the outlaw answers, “from myself.”

he was
holding a
in one hand
& a wooden
gun in the
but for
some strange
was afraid
of the
it was the
gun that
had every
one edging
back toward
the wall
some kind
of black
energy was
off the
gun &
just hanging
in the
air like
strands of
very dark
& because
wanted to
get close
enough to
give dil
linger the
thick stacks
of bills
began to
pour out
of the
bank drawers
all by
& once
they dis
covered where
dillinger was
they headed
toward him
& his
gunny sacks
in thickets
of ravenous

the riddle of the wooden gun is a riddle of a different kind of reality. not surreality, because riddle it is too concrete, too nietzschean. not surreality, because the mysticism of riddle is rooted not in oneness, but in separateness. not surreality, because the language of riddle is rooted in the violence of extreme individuality. it is a new reality. it is the ghost reality of outlaw.

outlaw is about two extremes: blood and ghost. outlaw is about the merging of the two extremes: blood and ghost. outlaw is about the visceral and the energy that surrounds the visceral. it is a mysticism of the body. it is the singing of the body electric of walt whitman. it is the yea-saying of nietzsche and neal cassady. it is the revitalization found in henry miller.

pretty soon
he sez
i am the
wooden gun
& i am
the real
gun when
you got me
you got

blood and ghost. the spirit of the wooden gun leaves you with scars, wounds, and the bullet holes of language. it is a wild outlaw ride made even more intense by the compacted words, the thin line beating syllables into a pulse, a pound. this poem is an endless sentence with no breaks. it takes you to a different level of consciousness.

the riddle of the wooden gun works on many different levels. what is reality? what is illusion? did dillinger use the wooden gun in his jailbreak from crown point? and as compacted and intense the lines, the poem is about space, the wide open space that the outlaw holds necessary. and so the poem works as a landscape, a frontier.

you cd use
almost anything
as a wooden
gun but most
of us
just broke
sticks off
tree limbs
but it had
to be a stick
that had
another one
growing out
of it so that
it looked
as tho is had
a handle
& when
you got
called home
& you
were still
holding onto
the wooden
you broke
it in two
that meant
you won it
what was
it you won
dillinger asked
the night
belongs to you

1 Comment

Filed under reviews on todd moore

One Response to tony moffeit | shaking the bones

  1. s.a.

    “The Riddle of The Wooden Gun” is yet another great book by one of our greatest poet/writers. Lummox publisher R.D. Armstrong has done a first class job of producing this fantastic ongoing breath by the truly inimitable Todd Moore.

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