BEAST FEAST by Cody-Rose Clevidence
Ahsahta Press, 2014; 112 pp
Reviewed by Annie Won


Beast Feast is a veritable jungle. Our post-Emersonian post-gender post-pastoral techno-mutant crash-smashes through terrain. "BEAST ROLLS IN THE GOLDENROD & THEN IN THE BLUEBELLS & THEN IN / THE ROTTEN CARCASS OF ANOTHER BEAST." Beast Feast begins with not one, but two prologues—the first containing lines from "[HAMMER / TULIP]": "SWAMPTHING,... I'LL ARM A GARDEN. WE CAN ALL LIVE THERE." The prologue tells the reader, I already warned you it's dangerous, so let's danger this together. The second prologue prepares to explain the work: "this is an / argument re: "natural" "animal" "world" etc."

Punctuation, tense, thematics, words, and gender are queered, made askew. Our narrator is a genderqueer (post-gender?) maker of the earth, pioneer. Clevidence writes, "I'm densing there .../ Ozark & hammer.../there is an eagle / all alone." Words are placeholders for many mutants: "a bizarre/wild synapse ... / listen neural / network, wire, branch, spark, pent-up multip / licitious postures, covalent hued sky, diaphanous / masculinity,... / lunge into this the forest where all nature's dethroned." The book is a sometimes-container for pages-long noise-making energy.

There is a violence to the clash of wor(l)ds; "/that revulsion is the violence that enforces."

Something about violence defines bounds. Identity is considered. Multiplicities are ignored or otherwise trampled. Clevidence writes, "there have always been a glitch like this/...polychronatic multiplication along the ozone folds."

Titles such as "[THIS IS THE FOREST]" are followed by "monoglottal polylimbic slightly amorous / loose-lipped.../postapocalyptic forest wolf me down." Texture is reimagined through symbols, punctuation marks, and syllabics. Our speaker possesses a grand post-Whitmanic "I," mixed with contemporary ecosewage. "I swim in this / [river] u [drink] / from form I / give -- is [toxic] / my [touch]." The "I" is cyborg. "E | Ros | ion--x. is a stutter in the tail features... / I am in love with an error." The eyeball, as observation and anatomy, is much contemplated "like as in EYEBALL [to claim] "the open" -- {all ownership//theft} & {gory / there } is tarred w [history in the derelict plumage "what wet sky the sun is / stolen from." Of sight, as in "O ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) )," Clevidence writes, "to dampen optic / hide ontic seed.../ to know & then to see versus to see & then to know; / to know w/o seeing, & vice versa, etc." The universe is transmogrified into the miniature. "In the land there is many flecks of eyes / in the land there are many flecks of eyes."

Clevidence's strong lyric lines are interrupted, chased, necessarily rough. Gender is a post-genetic relic. "I have a triple helix in the form of a prison/...many small prisons in the interstitial tissues." The world beyond gender is tough. Clevidence writes, "[virile is as volatiles does] leuc. "to strut into the open" to be denied is the only-- is a mutant {body}." The beast, our narrator, is alive, is sexual, is force and sensation. "ACRID ROOT BLEEDS SHINE BLEEDS PINK              RUB IT ON YOUR / XXX." Sex is base root of sensation, with "an oil rig in my persimmon. / ... I have a diamond but I hate it. I want to lick the machines of war ... / androgyne. confusion. many people have a necessary / violence." Every beast is for themselves. "I am calling but the animals never come / & offer themselves to my knife . . . "

In between are moments of contemplation. "How long does it take the head of a bird to rot when it is in a / sealed container... when it is left in /the meadow. when it is buried in the meadow? when it is suspended in the sky?" In a post-surrealistic present, how do we place our questions? Where do they belong? "How long does it take the head of a bird to rot when / it is submerged in the ocean, in a cold river, in a bucket. when it's / nailed to a tree. in the desert. when it's on fire, when it is still alive?"

Answers may include but are not limited to the following:

"I have a skinned eye / I have a skinned "I" / I have an I made out of skin / I have an eye which is a hole in my skin."