This Week I Read Paul Robert Mullen: disintegration

Image credit: Brigitta Schneiter via Unsplash

“as months shift/like blackbirds preparing broods in colour/you will see yourself in teardrops,” the speaker says in Paul Robert Mullen’s new chapbook, disintegration.

disintegration is a dreamy, spellbinding collection of poems which are meditations on change and loss. In the poem, “after school,” the speaker says, “we laughed about UFO’s at the end of class/your dad had seen one/over the moors east of the village.” These first few lines are so evocative: picture a man, walking over the moors in the dark, when he looks up and sees a flying saucer. Then, cut to his child, and the speaker, in school, talking about it.

“you smiled and told me you were walking home/we stopped at the crossroads…/to pick gooseberries from farmland,” the speaker says. The setting for this piece is pastoral. It’s definitely giving nods to earlier poetic forms in its defined place. But the UFO definitely gives it a modern/sci fi feel that I really appreciate. If you’re into this sort of thing, there’s a theory that UFO sightings and fairy stories are one and the same. On top of that, the poet makes mention of the crossroads, which figures heavily into witchcraft and fairy stories. Whether or not it was intentional, this keeps the reader grounded in that sort of otherworld.

The speaker concludes by saying: “it’s because you believed me/you said when i asked you/why me/i’d never felt so alive.” I think that belief is the most powerful thing in the world, far more so than love. There are two different stories that are coming together in this one piece–the father’s, as well as the speaker and the “you” in the poem. It’s a short piece, but there’s so much that can be divined from it.

Mullens’s poetry is lovely and thought-provoking. His craft is very eloquent in its simplicity. Though the book can be read in one short sitting, there is quite a lot to return to and mull over. I highly recommend this book, which is available now via Animal Heart Press.

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