oh, you thought this was a date? by C. Russell Price

CW for…all the things

I’ve made the stupidly courageous act
of letting our loudmouthed scars fall in love

C. Russell Price writes those words in “A Love Poem Will Not Save the World” from their latest collection oh, you thought this was a date?: Apocalypse Poems.
price 2

Spoiler: it’s not a date, and these aren’t love poems. Mostly. Except when they are.

Price’s loudmouthed scars bleed all over the page, as brazen in their desire as they are in their dread. Celebration and devastation often pass a cigarette back and forth in the same poem. Price writes here of violence, lust, fear, gender, bigotry, sex work, revenge, hate. Hope, just.

Price’s childhood rapist is spangled across the collection, not named outright but close enough, and there’s a glee intertwined with the savage grief of trauma as Price spins these poems like spells toward that monster’s demise.

These are “apocalypse poems,” and apocalypses major and minor play large in the collection, but this is no overwrought concept album. The end of the world is just one input in the algorithm of these interwoven pieces, as interested in the rusty trailer park of childhood as in the bombed out craters of what’s to come. As they write in “Mr. Doomsday”,

I wonder…if he says my name
like an abandoned amusement park.

If he simply says, I’m sorry for bombing
those islands that you loved.

Here, apocalypse can be something that already happened, childhood a mushroom cloud you’ve aged from in reverse. It can be ongoing. It can be all but unnoticable. In any case, it’s as good a reason for a dance party as anything else.

In oh, you thought this was a date? Price offers a punk grimoire filled with incantations to reclaim a life. Throughout and between them all, they seems to whisper:

Behead your rapist. Cover the head in chewing gum and roll it in broken glass. There: you’ve made yourself a disco ball, and you may as well dance.

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