BY KAILEY TEDESCO
Circa 2005, I sat on the carpet in front of my small box television watching The Simple Life, a reality series starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie . I specifically remember watching the episode where Nicole Richie becomes enraged and throws bleach onto a pool table at a small-town bar. As the episode continued, both women returned to bat eyelashes and apologize profusely to the bar owner. They were ultimately forgiven.
While I knew that what I was watching (a woman deliberately destroying something deemed valuable) was wrong there was also a voyeuristic thrill in witnessing someone completely break the rules and get away with it.
This is the very sensation you’ll get while reading Kim Vodicka’s Psychic Privates (White Stag Publishing 2018). With rhythmic, subversive poetics, Vodicka creates a completely enthralling show of transgression without consequence. It’s a collection that will destroy what you think you know about poetry by showing you how powerful a poem really can be. Throughout the entirety of the collection, the reader is guided through a world ruled by desire, opulence, and the body:
I give head like it’s rocket science.
I know every inch is intricate.
My assless straightjacket is Gucci.
I apply lipstick to the anus for maximum results.
We know upon entering that we are in a sort of familiar simulacrum. This is our youth, our media, our lives stretched to the utmost in all directions with each poem knowingly costuming itself in all that is gurlesque. This is how women & femmes are perceived, only in Vodicka’s collection, the speaker is the ring leader, the Andy Cohen — always in control of the spectacle. She is hyper-feminine & seemingly omnipotent all at once: “Madonnasaurus rex, / a fissure of men.”
While each poem maintains awareness over the spectacle it is both referring to and perpetuating, they also act as love songs for sex, body empowerment, and time. Like a modernized The Wasteland, Psychic Privates is a zeitgeist full of cultural allusion — the Clueless or Dazed and Confused of millennium poetry:
Panties in a bunch, all bloody
on a gun, I’d rather
Because everything we do is just so
In the land of milk and horny
with my most previous.
With a brilliant command of language, Vodicka deconstructs and renews the cliches that have previously bound poetry to one-dimensional. The ugly is made beautiful. Our eyes are taped open and forced to look at what we would usually turn away from, but soon the tape falls off and we still can’t look away.
Yet, with references to Michael Jackson, Elvis, TLC, shit, cum, etc. there is an undeniable depth at play, commenting on the stakes of identity and existence:
My spirit fragment is the world that ain’t all Ferris wheels or Bueller’s
When the things of our adore of no concern
are just for goodness sake.
The hope that was the one bright awesomely,
Beneath the speaker’s flippancy of “girls just wanna” there is a palpable longing throughout the collection. We are all within and without something, Vodicka seems to assert, and sometimes the desire for what is lacking is too heavy, even amidst the insistence that we live our lives in excess. Psychic Privates understands the absurdity of glamour & hedonism & opulence & love: “The human condition is hilarious. / We’re all a bunch of assholes who fart and fear god.” And yet, these elements of existence become paramount to Psychic Privates’ “Lady Lazarus”-esque power — through language, its speaker consumes & consumes in hopes of attaining that fullness.
And when you read this delicious and stunning collection of poetry, it will consume you too.
Purchase Psychic Privates (White Stag Publishing) here.
Kailey Tedesco's books She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publications) and These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese (Dancing Girl Press) are both forthcoming. She is the editor-in-chief of a Rag Queen Periodical and a performing member of the NYC Poetry Brothel. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. You can find her poetry featured or forthcoming in Prelude, Prick of the Spindle, Bellevue Literary Review, Vanilla Sex Magazine, and more. For more information, please visit kaileytedesco.com.