The Shell of the Nut
Litzine, Zachary C. Wilkins Leonard Fresquez, 17 pgs, email@example.com, $6
Wilkins’s poem “A Behemoth of a Human Being, or, Throw my Body in the Nearest River” finds itself attached here to Leonard Fresquez’s photography with an uneven result. The combination of the two, The Shell of the Nut, is a saddle-stitched folio, ink-jet printed and a little insubstantial, produced in a run of 100 copies. Fresquez’s photography is a highlight, capturing the street life intoned in Wilkins’s poem to good effect. The photographs print well, casting long shadows of slouching figures who are seemingly unaware or unconcerned with their observer. For a quick fold on stock printer-paper, these images are certainly worth paging through.
Wilkins’s narration, alternatively, is less forgiving. He begins with the annoyingly detached observation, “He felt suicidal and considered deleting his account, but instead added quotations to his search. | ‘Noah’ | ‘Where is Noah’”. The poem’s narrative follows this homeless Noah, exploring his storied wanderings and arguing subtly that it is Noah’s insignificance which makes him exceptional. That being said, the poem can’t cast off the smugness that accompanies a narrative which sets its crosshairs against a reader’s expectations. In one example of this, Wilkins describes: “He was on his way to a birthday party, handsome as Tupac, a bright red Nintendo gun tucked in his waistband. | The cops cut him off in the middle of an intersection, and kept him face down on the hot, dirty asphalt. | Whereas, the Jamaicans who’d robbed and pistol-whipped him the week before, had propped him up in a chair”. In combination with Fresquez’s work, The Shell of the Nut has a few things going for it, but cannot escape its sense of self-importance. (Joel W. Vaughan)