Emergency Room Wrestling: Poems
by The Dirty Poet
Words Like Kudzu Press | April 2011
I must admit, I was a little turned off at first by the anonymity of the poet’s name at first, and especially the words chosen as the disguise. I was curious if fans of this “dirty” poet knew who he was or not, and why this name specifically was chosen. I admit my hesitation to read the book, which, despite the pseudonym, has an intriguing glossy black cover that depicts what appears to be a ceiling at night from outside of an equally anonymous “medical center”.
After reading both the introductory pieces by Danny Shot and Karen Lillis, though, my interest changed gears. According to these two named voices, The Dirty Poet’s poetry, published back in April, promised me to include a topic that is extremely current: poetry as the antidote for what “is wrong with America; the disparity in income and lifestyle between the richest Americans and everyone else”, as defined by Shot. The Dirty Poet, I also discovered, works in the medical field, a la Wallace Stevens. The anonymity suddenly makes more sense.
Once I got into the book, I was glad I hadn’t let the moniker derail me. The poems provided are at times both fresh and frightening. They provide a detailed telescope into the ER—a place that, frankly, makes me feel uncomfortable. Part of the aim, it seems, of The Dirty Poet, is to provide his reader with this discomfort in order that the reader notice what those down at Occupy Wall Street and the other movements that have spread across the nation in solidarity and support seek attention for. The Dirty Poet’s characters are from the 99%, those who can’t afford expensive health care. The Dirty Poet’s book shows that these people exist, and also brings light to their suffering—but not without making you chuckle, perhaps in the same way that one would laugh at an episode of Family Guy, though.
Most importantly, The Dirty Poet uses his gifts of sarcasm and humor to present these people in the glaring light the hospital often shines on its patients. The Dirty Poet has a doctor’s objective glare. His titles themselves illuminate this humor: the first poem in the book, about a 400 pound man suffering from flesh-eating bacteria, is called “you think you need a beer” and later, “holy shit” followed by “death and destruction on a friday night.”
The Dirty Poet’s brevity and sarcastic humor that does translate from the voice he creates on the page in the same way that one might read Richard Brautigan. He, like Brautigan, prefers the lower case and has the power to come to a point in three lines, such as in the title poem, “Emergency Room Wrestling”, whose first two lines read, “he weighed in with a handful of ambien / and a liter of vodka”. Want to know who wins that ER brawl? Order a copy of this book by the Dirty Poet, who holds a sad mirror up that reflects the truth of the impoverished people whose only medical treatments often come after its too late or right before it is, in a visit to the ER.
Editorial Book Review