John McCarthy’s “Ghost County” is a book of poems with a focus on life and death in the Midwest. His poems are about desperate situations and places we know. Verbal fights in pick-up trucks, a high school homecoming, and an alcoholic preacher all populate this memorable book from Midwestern Gothic Press.
The author examines sights that are uncomfortable and does not look away. The poems named “Pickup Truck” deliver quatrain after quatrain of the ebbs and flows of a relationship. Late nights. Fights. Stress about work. Memories from the truck the pair spend so much time together in. As with any summary, one doesn’t get a true sense of the rhythm of the author’s words, which is as important as anything. So here is a taste:
In order to say the word love,
the tongue must pass between
your teeth, and I will say it
with so much force when I bite
my body right out of my body.
I will stand under hot water
until all my skin dries out
but I cannot help any of it.
I will tell everyone, except us,
what to do with their lives,
those final years cracking open
until time is a pair of lungs
To borrow some of the author’s language, “Ghost County” throbs with anger. What these poems reveal is the beauty of those things we might find commonplace now. McCarthy shines a spotlight on the familiar and glossed over. Check out this collection today.