"Sugar Bake Baby put the men on an iron plate, and then slid the plate into her brick oven."

Freud would have a field day with this collection of short poems and essays, which embody penis (and vagina) envy, ambivalent love relations, and sexual fantasies as well as cruelty, revenge, and murders… lots of murders. A flavor of true crime seeps into many essays, evidence that Poet used to work for law enforcement, and the majority are seasoned with creative acts of vengeance against the opposite sex. A “vagina became sharp blades” that ate her lover, and in another, a penis “absorbed everything from Lorna’s body,” leaving only her skin. People die from fire, knives, bullets, poison, exsanguination, and some uniquely creepy methods.

In what seems a cosmic joke, a photograph of a beautiful butterfly introduces almost every essay. Poet explains that a butterfly is simply a caterpillar that is not seen for what it can become. His caterpillar endures cruel torture by others until its transformation into beauty. The people in his essays also endure cruel torture, but the result of their transformation is ambiguous, often allegorical, frequently twisted, and sometimes hollow. Sugar Bake Baby is beaten and cooked, and her body oil fertilizes a community vegetable garden. An ugly man disfigures his beautiful lover so that she will marry him. The devil disguised as a gorgeous woman immolates her lovers. Men kill loved ones and are left with nothing.

The short essays are addictive. After all, what weirdness awaits in the next rapidly narrated vignette? Poet is a master of unresolved endings, snappy nicknames (Ta Ta Blue, Ma Ma Goo, and Nexus Colt), and colorful details. A rap-like verse he calls a “compara” poem (“a three to six line poem stanza with a story that usually coincides with the stanza”) successfully introduces almost every essay. Readers might enjoy these bizarre characters as they transform into anything but butterflies.

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