SAFE TOILET SYNDROME by Prathna Lor
[SAFE TOILET SYNDROME has been published by bearcreekfeed.]
If there is such a thing as ‘deadpan surrealism’ or ‘ironic sci-fi,’ then the elusive Prathna Lor may be their frontman. His poems summon strange kinds of unexpected prosaic epiphany — where the known world is plainly spoke, yet told from an entirely foreign, somewhat extraterrestrial angle; case in point, from “Vulcan”:
A fried spider rubs its body against the inside of my mouth.
It makes me want to crack open the shell of a dehydrated crustacean
and whisper into a ligament that is still sensitive to light.
With Lor’s lush minutiae, one needs a ‘mind microscope’ to venture the terrain. This collection of short, sparse, and piercing poems toggle wonderfully between morbid hilarity, scientific curiosity, existential dread, and reserved quietude. Lor’s preoccupation and/or precedence with classical music may explain his timely cadence:
The television is turned on
so I feel just as lonely as I did when I lived
with my mother and her two sons,
a dog maybe.
The alliteration of ‘as I did’ and ‘when I lived,’ ‘on’ and ‘sons,’ and the syncopated ‘a dog maybe’ make for subtle music, though it’s only a vehicle for what these poems are about, the mental vertigo that comes with having your perspective completely inverted:
I don’t believe you when you say you want to live
in a house with furniture
Per his scattered bios here and there, Prathna is a guy, though he refers to his vagina in “Folding Boards.” The second person pronoun lingers as the object of Lor’s affection, which I assumed was a girl (being traditional n’ shit). Things seem clarified with “Don’t touch my penis,” wherein the bed buddies are both male. Whether this straight-bi-homosexual triad is a device or ‘real’ demonstrates the complexity of not so much the narrator, but the narrative. Lor’s writing is laced with contradiction, allusions, minor violence, and the strange wonder of seeing through the eyes of an extremely sober insane person.
The last poem “Water” suggests what a ‘safe [sans flushing] toilet’ is. Lor’s affliction, or ‘syndrome’ may be ours as well:
If I could fit inside my washing machine
I would set the spin cycle to forever.
Forever is a long time to wait for life to end, which I think is what Lor’s been doing lately. I am glad that Prathna Lor exists, even if he doesn’t. What I mean is, Canada is pretty far away, and even if there’s a reading there, he probably won’t show. With intuitive refreshing drawings by Jeffrey Heart and Colin Bassett’s bubble gum design, Safe Toilet Syndrome is a place to unlearn yourself again.