Review of Sasha Fletcher’s I Ain’t Asked Any Pardon For Anything I Done by Emma Fick

The day I got “I Ain’t Asked Any Pardon For Anything I Done”—a chapbook written by Sasha Fletcher and published by Greying Ghost Press—in the mail, I waited until I was sitting comfortably on my couch before I opened it. Good thing, too—because suddenly, I was sitting in a sea of tiny bits of paper. Turned upside-down, the packing envelope rained sheets of found paper, mini-books, medallions but out of old books, and even a “Greying Ghost” pin onto my lap. So before I even cracked the cover of “I Ain’t Asked Any Pardon,” its presentation had me hooked. I wanted more.

I was not disappointed. In terms of its content, “I Ain’t Asked Any Pardon” chronicles the dissolution—and possible resolution (?)—of a relationship. Before you dismiss this as the standard fare, let me assure you haven’t seen a couple’s relationship explored quite like this before. It mixes the mundane (“When she woke up she put the coffee on”) with the absurd (“She unraveled a crow like a clementine…”) with the grotesque (“…and cooked the flesh in its mouth). Certain motifs become more and more apparent as the collection goes on: teeth, buzzards, trains, fire, bandits. As you trace them through the pages, you’re able to piece together a sense of what they might mean.

Overall, the chapbook provides a rather desolate and disturbing look at companionship. The whole thing is set in a desert—dry expanses of space, vast plains of hot heavy sand. Buzzards are always swarming overhead, waiting to feast on the kill. Vicious fires erupt and burn indiscriminately. It’s a bleak look at the monotony and boredom a relationship can take on, punctuated by harsh fires and fights that start “licking at that dry air.”

The poems in the collection work together to provide a cohesive and satisfying reading experience. Certain poem series work up to a fervor—especially the “Great Train Robberies” series—that provide you with distinct threads to hold onto. Amidst the fantastical imagery, these poem threads give you something with which to pull yourself through the collection, a string to trace your journey with. Through the fevered pitch of fire and buzzards and dry sands, the distinct sets of poems keep you anchored in the narrative.

“I Ain’t Asked Any Pardon” is the perfect length to be read all at once. You can sit down with it, read it from start to finish, and leave it feeling both fulfilled and wanting more. It’s a collection that merits multiple readings, with each reading leaving you feeling like you understand it a little more—and a little less. The collection is at once manageable and complex. I highly recommend it—from aesthetics to content, Sasha Fletcher delivers in her new collection “I Ain’t Asked Any Pardon For Anything I Done.”

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