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  August 2007
volume 5 number 2
  home   (archived)
  editor at large
Marie Lecrivain
George Wallace: poet, composer, MySpace phenom, and editor of Poetrybay
Eric Howard
Indefensible Poetry
Jerry Garcia
Naomi Querubin-Abesamis? Inner Victory, A Collection of Filipina American Poetry
Marie Lecrivain
RD Armstrong's The Hunger
Theresa Antonia
Dave Nordling's Glass Houses
Annette Sugden
Jack Cooper's Across My Silence
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Marie Lecrivain August 2007


RD Armstrong's The Hunger

What happens when a man who is also a poet, who–by virtue of his gift–is automatically exiled to the fringe of acceptability? He may decide that his only alternative is to take love where he can find it; to savor encounters with shadowy, ill-fated lovers on whose minds he ultimately wonders if he left an imprint or not. In RD (Raindog) Armstrong’s new chapbook, The Hunger, this question is addressed with sorrowful, candid, narrative verse.
In his introduction to The Hunger, Armstrong reveals that the sum total of his love life is comparable to a “bad luck bracelet, a dossier of all my failed relationships.” Well, one person’s bad luck bracelet can become another person’s favorite bauble, or in this case, a male poet’s primer on how to avoid those pitfalls in future assignations.
The Hunger opens with “Secret Lover,” a confessional poem that illustrates the downside of being the kind of man who some women like to “have on the side,” or, as a friend of mine so recently and eloquently phrased it, “a dick between other dicks”:

    For some reason
    It has always been easier
    To be the secret lover
    Women seem to prefer to
    Keep me to themselves
    Than share me with
    Their friends
    Sometimes they are
    In a failing relationship
    And sometimes not
    I am always careful
    Not to fall in love
    Not because falling in love
    Is wrong or bad
    But because as a secret love
    I know that it will end
    And being in love and
    Having it end still hurts
    More than just losing a friend
    With special privileges

    Armstrong keeps it coming, one after the other. The journey through The Hunger could at any time degenerate into a classic lonely old man scenario, except… Armstrong is a poet, first and foremost, and he’s taken back the role which allegedly condemned him to the hinterland and now employs it to his advantage. Each poem is transformed into something more than a glance back in time, as Armstrong breathes life back into each memory with a combination of hard-won wisdom (“Life Before The Ice Age”), brevity (“A Brush With Fame,” “Guilty Pleasure”), and true tenderness, as in the poem “Chopin” (my personal favorite):

    What I remember most
    Is this feeling of
    Knowing that
    It would end
    And the drudgery of
    The world would
    Soon return

    So I savored the
    Moments as best I could
    Knowing that I was
    Somewhat handicapped
    By my lack of sophistication
    In certain realms

    We labored
    Loved and
    Lived within the walls
    Of our respective hearts
    Citadels really and
    I do miss you

    Miss your playing the piano most
    So delicate and alive
    A common thing for you
    For me
    The sweetest pleasure
    Like a ray of light in the murkiest catacomb or
    A soft hand caressing my grizzled cheek
    My God
    It was a sound that touched me
    The clod
    As deeply as possible
    Making me want to climb
    Mountains in your name
    To worship you by
    Loving you in the sweetest way
    To lay at your feet
    The sum total of my wealth

    Your laughter
    Your kisses
    This is what I miss

    Armstrong draws a definite distinction between his secret lovers and his ex-girlfriends, to whom he says "they should all draw a collective sigh of relief," because this book is NOT about them. Unfortunately, Armstrong typifies of a lot of the male species; that the verboten, as well as the unattainable, are the only ones worth remembering. I hope, before too long, Armstrong may consider writing a companion volume dedicated to the everyday beauty of those women whose only crime was to be normal.

The Hunger, RD Armstrong, copyright August 2007 Lummox Press, 20 pages, $6

copyright 2007 Marie Lecrivain


Marie C Lecrivain

author's bio

    Marie C Lecrivain is the executive editor and publisher of poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles, a jewelry designer, and a writer in residence at her apartment.
    Her prose and poetry have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including: The Los Angeles Review, Nonbinary Review, Gargoyle, Pirene's Fountain, Orbis, A New Ulster, and others.
    Marie's newest poetry chapbook, Fourth Planet From the Sun, will be published in 2020 by Rum Razor Press. She's an associate fiction/essay editor for The Good Works Review, and the curator of several anthologies including Octavia's Brood: Words and Art inspired by O.E. Butler (© 2014 Sybaritic Press), Rubicon: Words and Art Inspired by Oscar Wilde's "De Profundis" (© 2015 Sybaritic Press), and Gondal Heights: A Bronte Tribute Anthology (© 2019 Sybaritic Press).
    Marie's avocations include photography; meditation; Libers CCXX and XV; marmosets; Christopher Eccleston, H.P. Lovecraft, and Sean Bean (depending on what day of the week it is); her co-owned cat Guinness; misfit and vintage dolls; the number seven, and sensual tributes upon her neck from male artists-except male poets, who only write about it.

    "Writing is like having sex with a beautiful freak; adventurous and uncomfortable to the extreme." - m. lecrivain 2004

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