by Mark Hartenbach. 16 pp. fingerprintpress. PO Box 5473, Deptford, NJ 09096
Book Review by Michael Basinski
If you know Mark Hartenbach’s poems you know that they are as intense as, well, it is like that moment before your car hits the wall when you are being chased by the cops; or it is that last drink before you step outside to face the world on fire; or are you gunna get sent to Iraq; or it is that last smoke you have on New Year’s Eve and you know the rest of your existence is going to be a painful, poisonous battle; or coming home and your soulmate has spilled your bookcase all around the apartment and she is gone; or working an ant out of your eye. His poetry expresses this tremendous inner life struggle between good. and evil in religious terms and still remains true to the vitality and energy of small press poetry. He is alone in the wilderness of the soul exposing, the horror of real meat evil with his words. Ah yes, evil is everywhere and in all shapes and sizes and forms. The poems in this book, which seem like one raging and roaring big poem, are perhaps the pinnacle of his Moses up on the hill pronouncement. Damn, his poetry has been up there on the mount and he sees! No evil can hide from Hartenbach! And as poems, well just: Wow! This is a slide down the razor blade and into a boiling pool of acid of spiritual life! I have always thought the small press produces the only real ethical poetry in America. Hartenbach extends this notion from the sociological and moral deep into the dark spiritual battle that all of us monkeys engage each and every day - and twice on Sunday.