A review of Frankie Metro’s The Anarchist’s Blac Book of Poetry
By Luis Rivas
If James Joyce was a black or Chicano poet who kept unsavory drug-dealing friends, he would have written something similar to Frankie Metro’s The Anarchist’s Blac Book of Poetry. Ohio-based and Fiercely independent poetry publishing outfit Crisis Chronicles Press released the chapbook this year, just a few months ago actually. Metro’s stream of consciousness approach, much like literary giants before him such as James Joyce, Virginia Wolf and Papa Hemingway have employed this technique, which destroys any semblance of linearity, of a beginning-middle-end and simple narrative.
Metro’s poetry has a deep range, from tackling socio-economic and political issues, to analyzing personal topics. In some cases, such as “Streets of the Pan-Americano Nightmare: II. Lower east side to 102nd,” the writer turns existential metaphysical concepts into real, living-breathing-walking people. And he does it (not only engaging serious matters and turning them into relatable and quite personal anecdotes, but writing it well) with such thrown-to-the-wind ease that its nonchalance is offensive and almost arrogant.
But seriously though. From beginning to end, from paper-back black-zombie-monster-thing front-cover to back, wrapped in yellow police caution tape, the book is a success.
The poems that stand out the most are “Indigenous Politics,” the “Streets of the Pan-Americano Nightmare” series, “hey lenin … did you know it’s x-mas? … xoxo,” “Attached is Your Latest Online Statement,” “Leading Conflicting Lives” and “Phoenix.” If you were to take each poem and lay them next to each other, it’s as if they came from different books, different time periods, different emotions and mindsets. But somehow the writing, the writer—that—you can easily assume to be one in the same.
A couple of pages in, the reader is sure to feel the nostalgia of 60s and 70s beat poetry the likes of literary legends Allen Ginsberg or Jack Kerouac. Metro’s poetry is also reminiscent of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, from his socio-political subject matter to describing nitty-gritty urban scenery; both poets share a fondness of anarchism and existentialism.
In the poem “Leading Conflicting Lives,” Metro deals with the most written-about topic in all of poetry: relationships (and how fundamentally flawed and sad they are; how inherently contradictory it is to cohabitate, to love, fuck, marry, divorce, bring life into the world, get back together, separate, start blogs, start affairs, end blogs, continue affairs, increase heavy drinking, etc.—all in the pursuit of happiness and escape.). But he does it so refreshingly, conceding defeat in the role of the villain.
A friend once said to me: “The key to living a life of satisfaction is to fully realize that you are a scumbag and accept it. You’re a piece of shit. The enemy. Once you accept that, everything that happens in your life will start to make sense. You deserve it all.”
Now, I don’t know if that was a reference only to me or advice that everyone should take (he probably only meant it for me. Fuck him. He was an asshole, that piece of shit).
Anyway, “Leading Conflicting Lives” reminds of that dictum:
Leading Conflicting Lives
By Frankie Metro
Leading conflicting lives—
She is willing to bleed more
From the cracks in her feet
From the smile
I try to slip on.
She is pawning her
As I am leering at the
Gift from her ex husband
“Why do you still wear that?”
“Because I have very few nice things anymore.”
She is calling all over the city
For free bus passes
And I avoid the phone
Because the dealer
Wants my last ten dollars.
She is crying to herself.
I am screaming at the universe.
She is walking through the
To catch a glimpse
Of hope for our future.
I am still screaming at the universe.
She is crying to herself.
I am planning to disappear
with full intention
Of never burdening a living creature.
She is searching for what we
I am dividing my attention in half.
She is worrying from
The corner of my eye.
I can no longer see the lust.
Leading conflicting lives,
She is a bleeding heart
And I am a mere callous on the vein.
As an accidental nod to the Beat Poetry of the 60s and 70s where hip and bearded poets used terms like “dig it,” experimented with experimental drugs and creative destruction, as another necessary urban journalist documents the tall flames that are engulfing the broken and irreparable walls of our society, as the poet dwells on the individual to help in constructing a comprehensive view of the world he or she habitats, The Anarchist’s Blac Book of Poetry is an obligatory piece of raw, underground poetry that demands to be read.
So go ahead and purchase Frankie Metro’s book; you’ll be helping out a scumbag. Available through Crisis Chronicles Press website.