Since my mommy purchased me Laura Sims’s collection of poems, Practice, Restraint, I have read it more than five times.
The poems are small and tiny. They hardly take up any space (although they do take up some space, of course). The lines leave room for few words; some, like the commencing verses of “Bank Twenty-Seven,” only hold one or four:
Trees over here
In one empty classroom
The girl is turning
The town inside out
Such sparseness spotlights the empty white space, which I like; it’s as if the few words of Laura’s poems are speaking to the empty white space, acknowledging that the empty white space isn’t really empty white space, rather, there’s something in it, the way an abandoned house at the end of street isn’t really abandoned, since ghosts live there.
Many of these poems pertain to scariness. There’s empty classrooms, empty rooms in general, trees, dead things coming out of mountains, a house that shines, and a girl in marsh. Each of these listed things could contain ghastly properties.
In the empty classrooms there could be girls getting ready to launch a school shooting because they were teased for not being capable of applying makeup correctly.
The house that shines might be doing so due to a bright apparition that resides in there and effects itself each night when it causes some kind of chaos.
Violence is a part of the poems. Laura compares girls’ “shining eyes” to “shiny new bullets.” She also remarks, “so many / dead girls / in this shit-hole.”
Though girls aren’t boys, they can still carry out violence, like Valerie Solanas did, like Mary Tudor did, and like the Jawbreaker girls did.
Some, like former secretary of state Colin Powell, believe overwhelming force is the best way to be violent. Others, like insurgent Muslim boys, believe a tiny and almost hidden force is better. The sensibilities of Laura’s poems align with the latter; just because you’re not doing lots of things and taking up lots of space in plain sight doesn’t mean that you’re not powerful.