A vibrant love of playful language animates the mundane.
Mash’s poems cover a wide range of topics, but they often marry the minutiae of daily existence with reverberating insights. In “Wallet,” he illuminates the ties that bind us to often overlooked objects: “I love the tug / of you — / pale imprint / of who I am, / calm pull / of the always there.” Other poems take on the making of the bed, in which the billowing sheet acts as a metaphor for a calming hand on a shoulder, or the ultimate vulnerability of sitting in a dentist chair while the professional cosseting serves to mask the violence actually occurring. Though Mash’s language is lively and often on the verge of mischief, it’s also imbued with a tinge of the melancholy. In the title poem, “Buyer’s Remorse,” Mash begins with a list of extravagant purchases but ends with one that hints at the despair of ill-conceived life choices: “[Y]our life laid out on the bed / like some suede suit your wife warned you against. / You’d give it back if you could, but you’ve made / your choice and—hard luck—the outlet takes no returns.” This ever present blend of campy humor and life lessons is often charming, like a parent hedging advice with a joke to lighten the mood. Too many similar musings can grow tiresome, though. For example, four poems are dedicated to individual fingers and the ways in which each holds specific meaning and purpose. However, he regains momentum when he switches his focus to nostalgia; the narrator declares enthusiasm for B-movies and doesn’t worry over deeper meaning. The ease of youth relative to his own maturity finds Mash more wistful: “Grace is now // an afternoon nap / as the drapes sashay / …and blood performs / its clunky round // through fingertips and toes, / and somewhere is // the sound of spokes / ticking to a stop.” Overall, his sheer joy in the multitudes contained within small observations gives his work energy.
Winsome and raucous in language but tame in subject matter.