Love For Slaughter
Strange House Books
February 9, 2017
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis
Today’s review subject is Sara Tantlinger’s new book of poetry Love For Slaughter, published by Strange House Books. The first thing you’ll notice is the book’s unique cover shot of a woman with her face peeled away to reveal a bloody mass that looks a bit like steak. Yum! Next to her head is a bloody splash that appears to have the imprint of a butcher knife pointed directly at her cranium. A few of you might be saying, “Well you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
However, in this case, you are wrong. Ah-ha! Finally I get to say that! To prove my claims, let’s take a look inside that cover. Spider Heart is a nice example of Sara’s work. When a spider-legged woman mentions her red bowtie, trouble is in the house! Ever make love to a Black Widow? Unfortunately fellas, they kill the father of their children and eat their heads. No, you’re not in the Funhouse, this is what you get from Sara’s poetry. It is a love like you’ve never known before. Slashing, biting, and happily ingesting the poisonous runoff of your fear.
Not that it isn’t earnest and true. Maybe these poems will slice your eyes with razor blades or crush you into atoms so that she can “reinvent the man, into my kind of monster”-Black Ties and Atom Crushing. What love is greater than that? To have a person who is willing to ingest you completely in order to make two into one. In Masterpiece the roles are reversed. This time it is the male partner that renders the female into a wonderful work of art by completely destroying her body. Eyelashes ground into powder, tears brighten the eyes, finger nails are removed and placed on the painting. Living forever comes at a very high cost.
Apocalypse Girl has Doomsday’s lover chasing her and following her every step. Even though she knows that things aren’t going to end well. One of my absolute favorites in this collection is Skull Pop-
“I got lost between
Crystal Head vodka
and chewing stereo wires
trying to recreate the way
your tongue tastes like
drunken sparks against mine”
Now THAT is some serious poetry that anyone who’s ever been in love, or even lust, can relate to!
I also really like Countdown. Its short lines are sharp and snappy with the flavor of having been dipped in chocolate to cover up the copper pennies taste one’s mouth takes on at times of detonation. When you’re caught up in love or even that time of pursuit, doesn’t feel like the whole world is involved? Especially the very young having their first brush with the all-consuming fires of love. Predator Haunt gives you another angle on that. Check this out-
“I will not obey the rules of this world if it becomes devoid of you.”
Angst anyone? This is what poetry is meant to do-present feelings and thoughts in a highly concentrated way. Powerful stuff!
How many stars? Well I would have given this book five stars, but there’s an issue that drove the rating down to a four. Sara’s poetry is creepy, endearing, and downright frightening at times. It’s also not the problem with the book. Love For Slaughter is a cool, nicely put together piece of work. But when the reader reaches the poems, they’re set in ridiculously small font that makes them hell to read. Serious buzzkill folks! Initially, I thought it was for the purpose of saving space or keeping the entire poem on one page, but as I continued reading I saw that was not the case. I really want independent publishers to succeed and I am offering this as friendly, constructive criticism. Everything else about Love For Slaughter is great and I highly recommend this book to fans of dark poetry who are looking for a sultry scare.