The Exiles


The Exiles

Exiles_HalfcoverThe Exiles
by Matthew Kirkpatrick
Ricochet Editions, March 2013
49 pages / $10  Buy from Ricochet Editions







In Matthew Kirkpatrick’s chapbook, The Exiles, we find ourselves instantly swept into something strange. A young boy’s mother asks him in a car ride home how sixth grade was. This means that he must have just finished sixth grade. He answers that he can’t remember. Lately he’s been feeling confused over the things around him, that happen to him, what he sees and the things he dream: “Things he remembered seemed unreal, and the things he forgot, like what had happened to him only hours before, disappeared from his memory as dreams upon waking.” At the same time, the neighbor girl routinely runs up and down and backwards on her front porch. We don’t know why yet, and so this makes us wonder if she is running backwards in reality, or if this is another confusion in the young boy’s vision. These two have something in common besides their oddities, and that is that they watch each other. In fact, each person we are introduced to in this world seems to watch someone else for one reason or another. The young boy James mainly watches in hopes of resolving his confusion over who really is real – his Dad at the dinner table, or Dad in the basement. The neighbor girl watches in reaction to those who watch her. Neither James, nor the neighbor girl seem to be aware that they are exiles under the watchful eye of their exiled world, but Dad in the basement is barely cognizant: “At times, he thinks that he exiled himself, and other times he thinks he was exiled; surely, he has done something.”

We begin with the young boy James, initially unnamed, his sister and mother going in the car through the rain. We end with the same boy (or is he really the same?), whose name we now know as James, with Sister and Mom (and possibly Dad?) going again in the car in the rain, only now the rain is warm because it is almost summer, whereas the opening scene is absent of season. We don’t know what season it is, but we do know that this trip in the car that opens the text is not the first of its kind: “There they go again in the car through the rain home.”


June 7th, 2013 / 11:00 am