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Luke Bloomfield on Jason Bredle

Smiles of the Unstoppable (Magic Helicopter)

By Jason Bredle
Reviewed by Luke Bloomfield


Getting off in its various iterations occurs with little or no restraint in Jason Bredle’s Smiles of the Unstoppable (Magic Helicopter Press, 2010) and although there are automatic masturbating pants, I’m more interested in the less literal expressions of ecstatic release this book offers—this book is more exploding than explosive, which may in part be attributed to its long, discursive yet oddly symmetrical thoughts e.g. Part of what make the Phil Collins/the portrait of the brilliant mellifluous God is that he radiates/the perfection like the entire universe shot through the cannon/of unbelievableness/toward another entity of unbelievableness… (it goes on for nine more lines, refraining Phil Collins a few more times before finally taking a breath).

If Brecht’s epic theater is about the audience being relaxed, Smiles of the Unstoppable is bobbing for decapitated mouse heads in a shark tank. Have you ever passed out on a train and missed your stop and woke up and said fuck it and took the train to the end of the line? That’s kind of how I feel with these poems. Whether Bredle forgot to get off (the train) or doesn’t care about getting off, these poems demonstrate an interest in exploring how far the line can go. Conceptually, this pays off, no more so than in “Dark Energy,” which continuously throws weirdness in your path.

Also visually the line intrigues: most of these poems look similar thanks to a recurring ragged right margin, which seems to reflect his tenuous hold on contiguous thoughts. That is to say, he fearlessly loosens his grasp on impetus, as though it were a snake that wants to bite him, which is to his credit in light of so many poems that cling to their snakes as though the poems had a singular purpose written in their DNA to be a snake charmer, when they could be a slushy instead, or anything.

These poems see into many dimensions at once. They suppose there is more than these words. Benjamin Péret wrote, “on the plane where the external world is merely one element in the composition of a complete world, we can, if we wish, re-live this moment ourselves from day to day: the perception of a bird’s song may provoke the resurrection of cities long since submerged, or your next door neighbor may ride a bicycle at the head of a procession of giraffes, chanting hymns of praise to the sun.”

The “if we wish” is the kicker, the bond between Smiles and the idea that beyond the external world we are endowed with an agency to experience anything our imagination can produce. This occurs in the tightest way in “Earth Night,” which is my favorite poem in the book. It begins with


Right now I’d love to be sitting on some guy’s chair while he sits

on a nearby couch with his wife

casually next to him,

the red lights from the Chinese grocery across the street

shining through the window over her skin,


Incidentally, this poem is perhaps the least “surreal” (yes, quote marks), yet it demonstrates an intensely controlled imagination that shyly peals back the surface to expose a beautiful little narrative.

Parting thought: When I first read Smiles of the Unstoppable I felt like William Blake in Dead Man when he investigates some beans and encounters the dangerous trio of misfits hungry for philistines. I don’t know. This book is a fire set way back in the woods is what I want to say, and lunatics staggering all around it.

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