MORE FRISK THAN RISK
by Mark Horosky
Flying Guillotine Press, 2010
Reviewed by Katerina Puzinauskas
At first glance, MORE FRISK THAN RISK is unassuming. No frills, no pomp- it reads minimal, and its simplicity lends a sophistication I find to be rare among chapbooks. The cover is constructed with plain black paper and the central graphic is a cream square crossed with wavy ink lines, also black. There is no title on the exterior. The stitching is simple and neat and fades inconspicuously into the spine. When I first received my copy in the mail I didn’t want to touch it, for fear that I might smudge the white vellum or muss the mitered corners. However, this illusion of timidity is shattered upon opening the chapbook. The first page has no words, but it is colored a shocking lemon yellow, and it pulses with raw energy, an unrestrained chaos which I found intriguing. The juxtaposition between the cover and the inset presents a clear division of flavors, and this discord had me eagerly flicking through the work.
MORE FRISK THAN RISK is divided into two sections, THE BOOK OF FRISK and THE BOOK OF RISK. Prior to reading, I had a few reservations about the dissonance between the two cover pages, fearing that I might not see the same conflict in the poems. But as I made my way through it, I found that cover and poetry meshed perfectly. THE BOOK OF FRISK is first, a series of four nebulous poems written in a variety of styles. I was able to easily get lost in the language, which is dotted with rich imagery balanced by inconspicuous colloquialisms:
“Your sigh is full of poem readers.
Nothing can crush his haircut nor her monster truck.
A slathering of continuings taking only yes for an answer and the smell of clothes they slept in.
Oh, um yeah, hey.” (From Bubble, Bubble, Bubble, Bubble, Cloud).
In a nod to the title of the chapbook, THE BOOK OF FRISK is indeed the longer of the two. The second section, THE BOOK OF RISK, is marginally distinct from its counterpart, employing more tangible imaginings:
“I am of a bus I just wrote into this poem because I sense and end is coming, a no in the length of a cigarette, but I am off the bus and walking. I am not taking a stroll or sauntering, I am walking inside black leather locking inside zipper Harley Davidson Motorcycle boots.” (From THE BOOK OF RISK).
I was especially taken a by a few phrases, specifically those that use grammatical dialect; they seemed especially eloquent:
“There is only a curb between us and the street
where our minds traipse inside quotation marks.” (From THE BOOK OF RISK).
I am still unclear whether RISK contains nine untitled poems or one lengthy work, but I enjoyed Horosky’s work nevertheless.