Author: Ben Cartwright, 2017 Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Competition Finalist
There’s a musicality to Benjamin Cartwright’s “The Meanest Things Pick Clean” that complements the feral diction found within. There’s also a density to his language that begs unraveling, reveling in, even as scenes of an earth in decline unfold. It’s a frightening world: The sun’s bulb turning us to dust, or crust; bees in a Monsanton torpor, not leaving their hives. Bomb plots and transcontinental pipelines feeding our never-ending Want. It’s also violent: The speaker bites, an ear is “torn in a flurry,” memory parts “like bone from meat.” Humanity is both separate from and part of the wild. With nods to Looney Tunes, poets and philosophers of the past, and cultural figures like Marx and Freud, Cartwright presents us a slideshow of the human ego. Will the last click of the projector land us in wasteland, the Wild Kingdom, or in a desert where one blossom manages to thrive?