Saturday, April 14, 2018

Smokey of the Migraines by Michael McInnis






Smokey of the Migraines
by Michael McInnis
Nixes Mate Books
Allston, MA
ISBN  978-0-9993971-2-1
Softbound, 42 pages, $9.95

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

Noir poetry, think Whitey Bulger on the loose, or Mickey Spillane turning to verse and you have just the beginning of Michael McInnis’ page turning poetic endeavor Smokey of the Migraines.

There are a few things you need to know about McInnis’ 43 page-long book. First, it is a single poem.  Second, it is written as if incorporated into the movie Black Mass based on the book of the same name by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill-- a pair of Boston reporters who followed in the footsteps of two other legendary Boston newspaper men, Harold Banks and Ed Corsetti.  Later,they would write true crime stories for various national magazines. Third, McInnis’ style in this book is fast-paced, almost as if someone added a bump stock to his keyboard. Fourth, there is a clich√© that goes “It was so good I couldn’t put it down.”  Well it certainly applies to Smokey of the Migraines.

This poem-story minces no words, be it McInnis’ extensive vocabulary, or the profanity which is liberally spread through the book.  But the best part of the book is the rat-a-tat-tat staccato of the writing:

The migraine takes
Smokey outside
his body
where he exists
far from
the reach
of life,
of love,
beyond the polished
black metal of the
Glock 9 he shoves
in Sully’s mouth,
chipping a tooth

The rest gets more interesting as Smokey’s thoughts are expanded upon and the migraines become as important and crucial as Smokey himself. 

Now throw in some time traveling science fiction:

Smokey don’t notice
he’s lost in the migraine,
time traveling,
to Dealey Plaza
where the sun never sets
for the kind, returned,
for the king
sacrificed,
for the king
kissing
his boots,
the Book Depository
a new capitol,
and the hundred years
between two
kings and the letters
of their names,
the mountain ranges,
latitudes and
assassins,
Sic semper tyrannis!
There are visits to Marat’s bath, Trotsky’s home, to Constantinople,  Ojinaga, Shiloh and encounters with Pancho Villa, Mary Shelley, Leif Erickson and many more.   This  isreminiscent of Evan Connell’s Notes From A Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel in which history and location become intertwined.
Then again like Dashiell Hammett 

The migraine
is a 9 mm
under Smokey’s
pillow.

The migraine
is the guts
of a burner
phone on the floor.

The migraine
is a whiskey bottle
on the nightstand.

The migraine
is a dream,
a nightmare
become
blackness
This book, this poem, unlike a good Thanksgiving dinner that is slow to savor, proves to be a fast meal, one you want to take in quickly and enjoy all the way down.  

If you enjoy the noir, the criminal element, street language and a great story, this is the book for you. You won’t even realize you are reading poetry.

___________________________________________________________
Author, The Lynching of Leo Frank, Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review

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