Continued...Linda Lerner / Review Dead Shark on the N Train
Even a world-famous diva like Maria Callas still feels like the “the chubby ugly duckling” she was as a child when the man she loves leaves her “to woo the most famous woman in the world” who’s even “thinner” than she is; willing to be the “lesser wife” to being “a cunt with a whistle in her throat” just to be with him.
Crimes of various sort accumulate: a school shooting, a woman being followed by a man with a gun she’s running from, crimes committed far from home in Mahoning (“It Hardly Seems to Belong to You or Me”) —an old story--- a quarrel over money, a woman knifed, (“wedding in Bulgaria”) and a man who “barks orders / at his wife as if she were his servant.” Physical and psychological deaths are often intermingled in mystery and left for the reader to solve. The poet doesn’t exempt herself either. In desperately trying to get noticed she brazenly admits to being, “ready to sell (herself) to people” and to using an alien or a shark in her book to do it; then in an ironic twist, throws out, “Here I am…you people, / you whom I don’t even write for.” Too Late. By the time we’ve finished reading this collection, that’s exactly who we’ve become---readers she’s been writing for. We’ve learned how to look for clues, analyze situations, peel back layers to reveal a variety of crimes superimposed one on the other-- become good literary detectives. We’ve also learned that ”so often the killer is someone you know.” (“Bath”)
Poems that stand out in this outstanding collection are the title poem, “Two Girls and One Removed,” “He Pried Open the Classroom Window and Stepped Out,” and Death Has Come in, With a Line from Eliot,” among many others.