Exodus in X Minor by Fox Frazier-Foley
Sundress Publications, 2014; 66 pp
Reviewed by Annie Won
"Cousin Magdalene's Husband Burned Down Their Apartment Building When His Meth Lab Caught Fire, and Her Lover Shot Himself to Death in Front of Her and Her Three Small Children Two Months Later." From a structural standpoint, titles such as this in Exodus in X Minor by Fox Frazier-Foley claim the stand-back shout-out voice of headlines but are actually a pair of eyes, quietly watching you. Funny how it goes. Do you remember what you've seen? Did you see? Will you see it again? Will you see what has changed? The titles repeat, the names shift, the events do not and somehow "Exodus in X Minor" appears as a refrain. Life has a funny way of kicking us until we're ready to be present.
I find it amusing that you can draw a line from each of my reviews to the next. Just as Cody-Rose Clevidence's Beast Feast tackles the primal post-societal contemporary, Frazier-Foley's epigraph, penned by Ethan Hon, reads, "We are so hungry food loses its form to sugar and water. / And we can live for a while killing...the butcher removes the...heart and lobs / it onto the table, the dark melt pools."
Red is bloodline. The narrator is red-headed. The plantation owner has a red beard who is "the man I'm fucking" is the ghost who "never hurt me circled myself with salt & wished he would," who "holds me / tightly by my throat," who "cuts me / another line." Often, the only color is red. So much happens and what happened, we have to ask ourselves. "Dear Madison, I was told of your death / over dinner" ("FOR MADDY LERNER, AGE 6, ACCIDENTALLY KILLED AT AN OUTDOOR FIRING RANGE IN UPSTATE NEW YORK"). Did anything change? Frazier-Foley writes, "I thought / of you & said, I'd never held / a gun before today..../ It was great, which felt like / saying, I'm brave. Like saying, I have / nothing to do with this" ("FOR MADDY LERNER, AGE 6, ACCIDENTALLY KILLED AT AN OUTDOOR FIRING RANGE IN UPSTATE NEW YORK").
None of us has anything to do with anything. Do you have any questions? "As a child, I dressed / one October as a crash / test dummy" ("LETTER TO DIANE ARBUS"). Ownership of events, feelings, and things is secondary to the nonstop onslaught of the latter to the former. Violence is issued as second nature. Frazier-Foley's characters are sense objects, pieces of witness, shrapnel. What of the modern boundary, of neighborhood city limit and safe lines, do we dare to cross? How does a body connect to another body? Will it ever? Frazier-Foley writes, "walls out of all the surrounding / buildings housing strangers: that is to say, bodies / and the time they give us... / we are all looking for "some new / way to become... / I mean my coat / of human / My zipper." ("LETTER TO DIANE ARBUS"), The only security we contain is in the clothes on our body for the little time we have them, the transience of which we are all too familiar –
"The flash lost / in a series of flashes.... / Lonely as a dial tone" ("LETTER TO DIANE ARBUS"). Like a Quentin Tarantino or a Robert Rodriguez film, the actions become secondary to the stark contrast, the sex, the violence, the making of oneself, again and again, the forward energy is all that we have and will not be contained. We expect the book to blow up in our hands. Spoiler alert: it does.