BY LIZ AXELROD
Editor's Note: This appeared on our old site.
Ariana Reines, the Goddess of putting it all out there is a supercharged, magical she-wolf. The sweet beast’s soft underbelly and sharp black claws reside happily in her poetry. She brings to light the twists and churns of our page-surfing information obsessed sex-craved whims and deepest most petrifying wishes.
A couple of years ago I picked up her book Coeur De Lion and became as obsessed with her poems as I once was with Thom Yorke and Johnny Depp. Yes. I suffer from a very large dose of fan-love-word-lust and worship. That said my review of Mercury is going to be just a tiny bit biased.
In full disclosure, after I read Ariana, I made it my business to bring her to the New School where I was studying for my MFA. I contacted her and asked if she would be kind enough to come to my class with Catherine Barnett and speak about her revision process. She said yes! Much to my amazement and yes, my ass-backwards approach did get me in a little hot water with Professor Barnett as she would have liked me to ask her first. But I never sit on circumstance, and well, I just had to bring Ariana’s poetic light to my classmates.
And did she bring it!
We spent the better part of an hour discussing how she approached Mercury, how the poems became pieces on the page, how she worked with her editor, the wonderful Rebecca Wolfe of Fence, and how the symbols she picked wove into the words. She told us about choosing the baby pics that are scattered in the last part of the book and how growth has been a major theme of hers. All the while my fellow poets (Ian Brown especially) stood wide-mouthed gaping at her beauty (and her very sheer green top).
The wonder of Ariana Reines’ feminine mystique is unmatched by the vivacity of language and intelligence she possesses. After that class on revision, in my position as weekend workshop coordinator for the Writing Program, I talked Jackson Taylor and Lori Lynn Turner into having her do a Saturday workshop. She proposed a four part series called The Wolf & The Dog.
We spoke of Romulus and Remus and the creation and fall of Rome, looked at the Tarot, discussed Bukowski and Eileen Miles, and found ways to work with both liberation and restraint. I wrote two poems in that workshop that have since been published. Blessed Be. Ariana.
So yes, this review is biased. She’s worth it.
Mercury is damn beautiful. Its mica-mirror cover with a slim black title catches light and reflects all in its path. Mercury is the smallest planet and the closest to the sun. Mercury, the chemical, is highly toxic, commonly known as Quicksilver and is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. Mercury in its book form is filled with shimmering poetry that tastes like cotton candy mixed with cum and works as an antidote to the poison of withholding.
The sheer volume of the book is daunting. Its 236 pages of vibrant feminism; sex and toys, boys and girls, thick cocks and wet pussys, atmospheric floating, wanting, and worshiping, are arranged in three volatile sections that leave you breathless, hot, panting and satiated (all at the same time):
This is for you visible angel
Giving me what I need
In the only way I can get it
I don’t know what I need
Until you have given it to me
To make me know I needed it
O stone of all that I am not. O gem of all things
Making me lick your gorgon eye
& touch myself eternally
As I read this collection for the second time, I saw it for its simplicity and its depth. This is one of the main things that attracted me to Ariana Reines. She has a way of taking a few words, putting them in a line and opening your mind to the universe of possibilities. Her use of simple and direct language brings you right into the poem and yet leaves you in the margins, wondering where it came from and then not giving a fuck, just happy it’s there, finally, on the page:
From the Perforator God
On a newly renovated Victorian House
The contractors will sweep me up
With the other dried up bees
I guess everything that sucks dries
up, or something like that
I can insert myself into something more
Invisible, something smaller
The jealous, rich minds of poets
Lonelier and more confused than ever
And even more eager
To justify and verify
Ariana uses mostly free form with many pages given to only white space and three to five words. But her craft is evident. Her use of enjambments and her savvy language craft works to bring the reader into the poem and the poems linger on even when it is seemingly but a thought:
Your music makes me feel lonely
And then the next page:
Your music makes
me feel lonely
Picking a lemon
late at night
my heart tightens
I fear nature
Your music makes me feel lonely
I must be responsible for it
Throughout this gorgeous compelling text are images and symbols, pictures, letters, inner thought processes and self flagellation. When you finish reading you are left with a sense of completion. The life reflected on the pages starts with present sexual tense and tension, moves through seeking searching and reflection and then finishes with a spurt of childhood, birth, and familial regret. It’s a wonder and it shines. O it SHINES.
This one was born with one eye facing inward
Liz Axelrod received her MFA from the New School in 2013. She writes poems, book reviews, essays, fiction and anything her pointed pen finger deems relevant. Her work has been published in The Rumpus, Publisher’s Weekly, The Brooklyn Rail, Electric Literature, Counterpunch, Nap Magazine, Yes Poetry, The Ampersand Review, and more. Her Chapbook "Go Ask Alice" was chosen as a finalist in the 2015 Finishing Line Press New Woman's Voices Competition and will be published in March, 2016. She is an Adjunct Professor at SUNY Westchester Community College, a book reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine, and co-host and curator of the Cedermere Reading Series in the home of William Cullen Bryant. Find her here: www.yourmoonsmine.com