Featured Review

Jeannine Hall Gailey

( Seattle, Washington )


A Slice of Cherry Pie
Edited by Ivy Alvarez
Half Empty/Half Full, 2006

A Slice of Cherry Pie, a saddle-stitched chapbook collection from Half Empty/Half Full press by an eclectic group of poets, attempts to reflect, deflect, debate and deconstruct the cult-classic television show Twin Peaks. I confess here that I am not a die-hard fan of Twin Peaks, and in fact haven’t seen any of the show except maybe the pilot and the television prequel Fire Walk With Me. (This despite living twenty minutes from the town where footage for the show was shot in Snoqualmie, Washington, which features a small diner with the words “damn fine cherry pie,” painted in big letters on the side. Shame on me!) But the fact is you don’t have to be a fan of David Lynch’s offbeat series to be a fan of this chapbook. Each poem operates on its own terms, independent of the show, and yet somehow the poems become interdependent, a meshing of characters speaking and ideas that seems to retain the alternately disturbing and charming eccentricity of the television series.

Every poem in this collection deserves a callout here, but I particularly liked Emilie Zoey Baker’s grouping of character descriptions, ending with a description of the show’s embodiment of evil, “Bob,” who she describes in the following lines: “You swallow lives like an oyster…Your smile bends like suicide. You walk like an acid spider made of slugs. Bitter is the taste of dead owls.”

Jilly Dybka’s poem is a compassionate and musical take on one of the characters in “The Log Lady’s Log Whispers to Her”:
“Its voice is as reedy as a bound cold.
It is always waiting, like an old wound.

Waiting for a vision that can catch hold,
a fortune told in the wood’s hollow sound.

My log does not judge. It can only proclaim.
Don’t close your eyes or you will burst into flames.”
The standout ending piece, Jared Leising’s prose poem “Diane Dreams of Dale’s Voice,” takes on persona of the show’s protagonist, Agent Dale Cooper. Here are a few lines:
“Diane, I’m holding in my hands a small box of chocolate bunnies. It struck me again earlier this morning, there are two things: the cherry pie is worth a stop…When I finish there are two things that continue to trouble me. And I’m speaking now not only as an agent of the Bureau, but also as an agent of the trees. I guess we’re going to go up to intensive care and take a look at that girl that crawled down the railroad tracks off the mountain…”
And I haven’t even begun to talk about Collin Kelley’s sassy “Sometimes Her Arms Bend Back,” Eileen Tabios’ enigmatic, swaying collection of phrases in “The Collapse of the Last Log,” Maureen Thorson’s snappy “Sayonara, Cherry Pie…” Every poem demands and rewards rereading, finally presenting a haunting portrait of American gothic popular culture in verse. A chapbook to curl up with during a long winter night.

Next - Christine Hamm


Current Issue - Winter 2007