This Week, I Read Brian Fuchs: Okie Dokie

Image Credit: Mark Muhlberger via Unsplash

“When our stories are all written, will we understand the languages in which they’ve been written? I find my own language so difficult, and I worry about understanding the bonfires we all set for ourselves, the interest we take in pomelos, carrots, cabins, the sun, or which tea goes best with happiness,” the speaker in Brian Fuchs’s debut collection of poems, Okie Dokie.

There’s something deep and lovely about Fuch’s work. His sentences are simply crafted, yet they are lovely and hint at something deeper that’s also being said at the same time. The poems are full of nostalgia and elegy. It’s some of the most beautiful poetry that I’ve ever read.

My favorite piece in the book is “Quentin Clingerman Has Died.” In it, the speaker is watching a storm come in.

“The worn out flags and crosses/still look as majestic as they did,” the speaker says. Here, is evidence of Fuchs’s deft hand—this could be describing a graveyard, or even a suburban street. The opening sentence says that the wind is blowing garbage onto his lawn—this could be a grave, or it could be an actual lawn. It’s just vague enough that I’m picturing both at the same time, just as the speaker could be Quentin Clingerman himself, speaking from beyond the grave, or it could be one of his funeral goers.

“I’m opening my insides/and filling the pages with secrets,” the speaker says. “I’m waiting for critiques/by entrenched folks who think/too much about the sex lives/of other people, about my sex life.” The speaker is allowing himself to be vulnerable, baring himself on the page, and expecting it to blow up in his face. This has the feel of a Southern Gothic small town, where everyone is in everyone else’s business. While the speaker wants to bear witness to his truth, his sexuality, he knows that the people around him will judge him for it.

“I want to reveal myself again,/try to make people see my words/ and my techniques and stop worrying/about who I’ve kissed or/who I haven’t, but wanted to.”

This is my favorite line of the book. Situated at the end of the poem, the speaker is asking not to be judged for who he is, or who he loves, but how he writes. Brian Fuchs’s words and his techniques are gorgeous. Fuchs’s technique is subtle, and the artistry of it is immense. I find myself really impressed.

10/10—I highly recommend. Okie Dokie is available through Scissortail Press.


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