Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Jason Schossler's Mud Cakes

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Jason Schossler's Mud Cakes

Article excerpt

Jason Schossler's Mud Cakes Bona Fide Books (2011) ISBN-13: 978-1-936511-01-3

The cover design, the author's photograph, and the short titles of these poems suggest a lighter collection, but there is surprising depth to this examination of modern pop culture. On the cover is an image of a boy leaping forward in boxers, also wearing a mask, and a star in the middle of his chest, an overall red, white and blue uniform with a cape on his back. There is a simple wood-wall in the background and a pavement below the boy's feet, instead of grass where similar jumping might have been done a generation earlier. If we live in pop-culture where symbols of Superman and other superheroes are etched in our subconscious with greater intensity in our youth than the heroes of classical literature, or the friendships made in sportsmanship, then surely poetry should embrace this modern reality.

"Being Luke" is a great example of materialism combined with pop idolatry: "On the playground it always came down/ to the same thing: Doug had the toy lightsaber,/ and I didn't. Never mind his house,/ that destroyer of worlds, solid brick/ and custom built on the patch of woods/ where my mother used to pick blackberries..." Luke had more of everything, and the narrator feels a deep jealousy for him by focusing on his possession of one particular toy that he lacks. The poem details the sorrow that the narrator feels at this lack, and looks closely at various possessions and elements that make up modern life and shape our culture.

Aside from pop-culture, these poems look at other every-day things that we have all been annoyed by and that bring up many memories when they are mentioned. For example, "Mosquitoes" begins with the all-to-familiar attempts to fix these tiny frustrating wounds after they've been inflicted, "dabbing calamine on the lumps I scratched/ open in my sleep, pressing her thumbnail/ into the fat ones, branding crosses,/ asking, Where else? …

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