Poem for the Day: January 27th, 2022

American Deathbed by Jiarong Zhang

is boneboat. We make teeth 

from pennies for our American

toothfairy. We hide them under our

pillow next to our nectarine

acetaminophen. Dali mouths

opening to other mouths

form this neck of history.

I’m sucking my pregnancy

test like a popsicle. I’m

breastfeeding the sea.

You’re in bed with

your video game girlfriend

except it’s you on the screen,

you’re playing in the first person

your lips are kissing your feet.

You’re smoking a cigarette

in the deportees club.

You’re sitting on the toilet

beside your female-gendered

tub. I’m watching an old

woman crawl up the hill

of the city. I’m baptizing

myself in the acidachelake.

The sun is throbbing

into my throat. For who.

For who. I’m scalpel

-ing an ebony. You’re Fishhawk

Midnight. My naked legs

bent into the Geese

-Shaped V. Before we sleep,

you look out the window

to see what’s left of me. Out there,

beyond the American Deathbed,

you tell me there are lesions of

kindness. There are birds

jeweling our sleeps. There

are hyacinths, just purring.

I want my mother to see.

On the moon, you say

look closely to see

a child’s TV

playing infinitely on loop,

just purring with gravity.

I want the old song to play

of my father snoring in his

sleep. Mother yelling at me to

leave. In this twilight,

even anger is so pretty.

Live for me.

© 2014-2020, BOAAT Press. All rights reserved.

I love how playful Zhang is with language in this poem. From the lesions of kindness to the hyacinths, just purring, every image Zhang conjures is haunting in its specificity while abstract in its execution. In the background of it all is an undercurrent of electricity waiting to zap the attentive reader. American Deathbed is one of those poems you can’t read just once, and the reader willing to give it the time and attention it deserves will not regret the decision.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: January 14th, 2022

i found a lover and we left the city by Patrycja Humienik

temporarily. crackle of the fire said as much.

temple into the sprawl of limbs, which came later. first



the alchemists: oysters we ate quietly as we could,

laughing, not saying a word, eyes full of language.



and it wasn’t that no one had ever touched me before,

but it had never been like this. tunnel-less. not a search



for a prize, zippered pearl to coax out of grieving.

not the scarcity of hardship or the dismissal of it, but we did look



up: airglow: sky a cicatrix: purpling, paler. damage,

and the need to undo it—not to fix, but to unribbon



the past. my mama grew up in a rural place, rolling jade

hills, my name betrayed her wish to leave that lack.



szlachetnie urodzona: desire for wealth and its associated ease.

i don’t blame her for using a name like a tool for weeding.



i, too, prune and tug at my story, but she wanted me to live

up to my name, and for that i might blame her, i learn other names,



plants that please me: forsythia, hyacinth, pyracantha; my lover

gives me a dried bouquet. i prefer weeping



willow, even seaweed, something of water. i want

not to say this but to be understood with my eyes, the way



i was, for a moment, by the fire. but some lovers are not for

lasting, though that part comes later, if i, must i, tell the truth.

© 2014-2020, BOAAT Press. All rights reserved.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: The Hiking Viking by Laura Gehl (Words) and Timothy Banks (Pictures)

The Hiking Viking by Laura Gehl (Words) and Timothy Banks (Pictures)

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Capstone Editions in exchange for an honest review.***

Leif isn’t like other Vikings. He doesn’t like to battle or brawl, holler or howl, wrestle, or throw spears. No, Leif’s idea of a good time is hiking to the top of the fjord and beholding the majesty of the natural world.

No one in Leif’s family can understand why he is the way he is. They’re always pressuring him to join them in the activities they enjoy, which naturally leaves Leif feeling like an inferior outcast in his own clan. When it comes time for the Viking Games, Leif’s family’s honor is at stake and he can’t let them down. What Leif learns and is able to teach his family and the other members of his village is that the best contribution you can give to your community is being yourself.

What Leif learns and is able to teach his family and the other members of his village is that the best contribution you can give to your community is being yourself.

Laura Gehl and Timothy Banks have crafted an instant classic with The Hiking Viking. With gorgeous illustrations and positive messages about the benefits of honoring your own authenticity, The Hiking Viking will appeal to young readers of all genders.

The Hiking Viking is due to be released on February 1st, 2022 by Capstone Editions and is now available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: December 2nd, 2021

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan

Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.

John Grogan, Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our kitchen is barely big enough for one person to maneuver around in, let alone two, so every holiday some inevitable bickering always ensues.

Right now I am sitting in my living room looking out at the milky-gray overcast sky. I’ve got reruns playing in the background and I’m daydreaming about the turkey dinner I’ll be eating later today with all the fixings. I can hear my parents in our kitchen hoisting the turkey which so bravely sacrificed its life so that we might feast today into the oven. Our kitchen is barely big enough for one person to maneuver around in, let alone two, so every holiday some inevitable bickering always ensues. Perhaps it’s wrong of me, but I love relaxing on my behind while others toil near me.

I’m not going to lie, these past few weeks have been really difficult. I’ve spent a lot of time crying, screaming, tossing and turning at night, and questioning so many of the decisions which have brought me to this point in my life. Work has been an absolute nightmare, as retail work in any capacity usually is at this time of year, and my psychologist has been recalibrating my meds, so I’ve been a veritable basket case. I don’t know if “basket case” is a politically correct descriptor anymore and it’s certainly not a clinical term, but it’s what I’ve been nevertheless.

I’m comforting myself by constantly taking stock of what I have versus what I lack, and the balance is always in favor of what I have.

Today, all of the things I’ve been struggling with recently remain with me in the background. But something different is in the air today. I’m trying to live in the moment despite how difficult that is. I’m comforting myself by constantly taking stock of what I have versus what I lack, and the balance is always in favor of what I have. Right now, I have everything I need. Right now, I don’t have anywhere I need to be or anything urgent to accomplish. I am safe and warm. My bills are paid. I am with family and if only for today, I am choosing to allow everything else to be noise that I can turn all the way down to the point where it’s nothing but a low hum.

I hope that wherever you are and whoever you’re with that you’re able to press pause and take a deep breath, knowing that you have everything you need to carry you to the next moment.

I hope that wherever you are and whoever you’re with that you’re able to press pause and take a deep breath, knowing that you have everything you need to carry you to the next moment. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: I Love You, Call Me Back: Poems by Sabrina Benaim

I Love You, Call Me Back: Poems by Sabrina Benaim

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

Sabrina Benaim has gifted us with a collection that is both a blueprint for grief and a roadmap to help us find our way out of it.

With I Love You, Call Me Back, Sabrina Benaim has gifted us with a collection that is both a blueprint for grief and a roadmap to help us find our way out of it. It’s not an easy task to meld hope and despair together in the same poem without coming off as maudlin or worse, melodramatic, but Benaim manages to do so with the grace and panache of an assured stylist.

Her voice rings so clear and true that while reading her new collection I felt like I was having a conversation with an old friend, one with whom I could share my highest hopes and biggest fears. After the past nineteen months of dealing with the isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, finally someone is saying that everything is not okay, but it will be eventually. And in the meantime, we can hold space for small joys, of which I count this poetry collection as one of them.

I Love You, Call Me Back: Poems was released by Plume, a division of Penguin Random House, on October 19th, 2021 and is now available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Book Review: The Guncle: A Novel by Steven Rowley

The Guncle: A Novel by Steven Rowley

If Full House’s Uncle Jesse had been an actor instead of a musician and gay instead of a womanizer, you’d have Gay Uncle Patrick (referred to affectionately as GUP by his niece and nephew).

When we first meet Patrick O’Hara, he’s a semi-retired former sitcom star who’s exiled himself to Palm Springs with nothing but a big empty house and his coveted Golden Globe to keep him company. He’s witty, charismatic, and wholly self-absorbed—a stereotypical Hollywood darling if ever one graced the screen.

His tranquil life is interrupted when his best friend and sister-in-law Sara passes away from a long illness. He learns that in addition to the tragedy of Sara’s death, his brother Greg is addicted to painkillers and needs to check himself into rehab for the duration of the summer. While he’s in rehab, Greg asks Patrick if he will take care of his children, Maisie and Grant.

Initially, Patrick is aghast at the prospect of being the sole caretaker to two young children who have just lost their mother, but he reluctantly agrees. It’s only for the summer, after all, and he feels like it’s the least he can do for Sara—a final act of kindness.

Patrick’s first bumbling interactions with his niece and nephew are comedic gold because it is obvious Patrick is not used to entertaining children. His oblique pop culture references would be lost on almost anyone outside of a drag bar, so he might as well be speaking Japanese for all Maisie and Grant understand him.

Throughout their stay Patrick realizes how much he’s been missing from his life. As taxing as the children can be at times, they give him purpose, direction, and clarity. In the midst of grieving for Sara, he also starts processing the loss of the love of his life which we learn happened several years prior to the begging of the story. He finds his way, so to speak, at the same time he’s helping Maisie and Grant learn to navigate the scary new world that’s deprived them of their mother and isolated them from their father.

The story benefits from having several strong supporting characters, and Rowley’s narration of the audiobook version of his book is superb. The Guncle is a perfect mix of comedy and drama, with plenty to satisfy casual readers at the beach as well as the more serious-minded members of the literati. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Favorite Quotes from The Guncle

Anger, when justified, is glorious.

How can you tell where you’re going when you’re always looking up at the past?

You don’t want to live with Grandma and Grandpa. Why? Because they think Fox is news and raisins are food.

You can’t spell nemesis without me, sis, and you do not want to make me your enemy.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.