If you asked me who wrote Fuse I’d say it’s a human like you who has lived and died and lived. What’s fresh about Fuse is how Marc McKee manages to stuff so much velocity into poems structured like strong towers. How does he blow shit up and still keep the roof on? As McKee writes, “We must / draw our maps of the impossible.” Fuse is structured chaos; it’s entropy with an MRI of the damages. And the damages are what maybe make a life.
How do you review a life? How do you even review a book? I could give you cogent loop-de-loops in which I try to impress with my best Vendlerese. “The river is talking to the Holiday / Inn. It’s a line I use at parties: / When I am 46. When I am dead,” writes McKee. I could get all language on it so that it really becomes about me and my gutterals. What I want to do is feed you the entire text through the screen, but this is a book you definitely want to hold as an object.
Here is a chunk, from the poem “Dear”:
I wanted to say, I am made of disappearing,
I can only make the ideal appear real
for an instant. If I could see me now in the airport
I would always be in the airport but never
reading the names of the slain, my hair full of glue…
I wanted to say, be perfect, don’t reach, your reach
will wreck in my shallows and Don’t ever, ever
Even McKee’s abstractions, the “perfects” and “instants” that would fly away with other poets are more cordlike here than anything else. Who is perfect just by being? You are. Who is made of disappearing? Speaker is (but aren’t you too)?
Otherness comes too, and it comes in “a weary horse with a chainsaw for a head,” a voice on the phone that says “I’m bleeding so I’ll have to call you back.” But wherever there is fear in Fuse, there is also some invisible perimeter that calms and connects. Tangents fertilize other tangents; not in a paratactic or kaleidoscopic way, but in a meditating on one object for a sleepless night way. Everywhere McKee’s speaker arrives, or does not arrive, he is surprised to be — as hourly a new veil is lifted.
Some humans like to debate what a poem is and what it isn’t, or what a real writer is and what it isn’t. The first free verse poets had their day, as have the Dadaists, the L=A=N=G=U-A=G=E poets, the Flarfians and many other schools. Lately, that debate seems to be emerging around here regarding the Muumuus and the tumblr poets—most recently here and here. I quit the debating society a while ago; but I do feel it to be true that Fuse is a book of poems.