The Universe, my friends, is a Jokester. Sex & Other Slapsticks invites us to make fun, to find amusement at our own expense. No topic is off limits—and this collection reminds us that the biggest Joke, Life, is on us.
With wit and humor and a sly ribald sense, Ellaraine Lockie explores what it means to be a woman. Unapologetic about her own foibles and hang-ups AND our embarrassment over what might, in fact, be less important than a “family’s bad heart history” (19), Lockie shares those intimate details about life that have us squirming a little in shared humiliation. She posits that ultimately we have the power to pay attention to what really matters, and that there is power in letting some things go. But that there is also joy in those squirmy things, humor in our shared clumsiness. Both provocative and sensual, this collection does not shy away. From “Bidet in Haibun:”
“Day three and I’m embarrassed to ask about the bidet.
I do what any modern traveler would: Google on my laptop.” (12)
How often have I Googled something I was too embarrassed to ask directly about? I confess to being truly unable to pick a favorite poem because so much resonates with me.
I, too, have suffered the indignities of allergies, the endless questions as to whether my symptoms are a cold or seasonally related. The speaker in “Irony at the Allergist’s” stares around the waiting room, identifying possible culprits.
“You think you can smell neroli
From the bitter sweet blossoms
On the cover of The Organic Gardener
Or maybe it’s the gray cat curled
Around the tree trunk that’s causing
Your nose to raise its voice” (11)
The misery is shared, and that invitation to laugh, to find humor in this moment, is also shared.
This collection is filled with poems that function as vignettes, powerful little narratives of seemingly ordinary moments. While ire is present at times, these poems never fall into rage or irritation, always find some aspect where humor connects the reader.
In “Treasures Today,” the speaker relates the nostalgia of the heirloom jewelry box kept on her daughter’s bedside table, only to lift the lid and discover that the gems kept there aren’t quite what she had imagined. Without revealing too much, there’s an acknowledgement that the daughter’s experience of the world as a woman is very different from what the great-grandmother experienced, and that there’s freedom and playfulness in our modern expression of sexuality.
In dealing with the possibility of an irritating flight companion, the speaker of “What I Carry Home to the Grandsons” gleefully shows the contents of her purse, little treasures saved:
“Then I show her the bodies in my purse
A shriveled baby rattlesnake dented from a tire
A prairie dog’s jawbone with perfect teeth
The only remains from my grandfather I tell her” (23)
The speaker is rewarded with silence and the privacy she craves, and the reader applauds her cleverness in securing that peace.
In “The Robe Also Rises,” we cringe our way through the sacrifice of personal dignity for the safety of a beloved dog, She writes, “What choice did I have but to jump the fence in flip-flop slippers and robe, yelling like a mother banshee. He was faster by two legs more than I, even though he ran with his head cocked around watching me with a big dog smile on his face” (27). The moment escalates from there.
An addition to the Presa Press Contemporary Poetry Series, Sex & Other Slapsticks is worth a visit—some chapbooks are light snacks; this is a spread a reader can return to time and again. Every poem has received a contest award, something quite unusual in a collection like this. But it’s also easy to see that each poem has been carefully curated to indulge the reader in wry deprecation.
Sex & Other Slapsticks
$8 + $3 S&H
PO Box 792
Rockford, MI 49341
From her bio: Sex & Other Slapsticks is Ellaraine Lockie’s fourteenth chapbook. Earlier collections have won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from Purple Patch in England and The Aurorean’s Chapbook Choice Award. She also teaches writing workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh.
April Pameticky, mother of two, shares time between her high school English classroom and the creative community of artists and writers in Kansas. She launched the Wichita Broadside Project 2017, currently serves as editor of River City Poetry, an online poetry journal. She’s had the honor of working with many creatives for unique cross-collaboration experiences, including Anatomy of a Sea Star-Reimagined, choreographed by students from Wichita State University Dance; and Epistrophy, pairing poets with musicians for a synergistic listening experience. Most recently, she has worked ekphrastically with photographer Amanda Dickinson Pfister using Ginsberg Sentences for a winter show at the Steckline Gallery at Newman University. Her own work can be seen in journals like Malpais Review, KONZA, and Chiron Review. She is also the author of several chapbooks and her debut full-length collection, Waterbound, is available from Spartan Press.