REVIEW: Idiopaths by Bill Rasmovicz
by Kalliopi Mathios
When I answered a friend’s phone call as a kid, I’d sneak a thick white phone cord through the kitchen, and wedge it in the backyard door, praying that my parents wouldn’t overhear our conversations. When I told this to my sixth grade students years later, they couldn’t imagine the inconvenience of being tethered to a phone cord. The idea of non-mobile conversation seemed ridiculous to young people born only a decade my junior. These monumental shifts in how we live are reflected in Bill Rasmovicz’s Idiopaths.
Rasmovicz illustrates the world at a critical stage of change, one where “your pulse is dimmer than a / junkyard séance.” He explores the interactions between man, technology, and nature through elegantly dark imagery. He writes of the look on our faces, the wear and tear of contemporary society altering even our physical characteristics:
“Everyone waiting for an enthusiasm
to latch onto
among our tired dayscapes, glued
to the news, the dogs in chained orbits
around their coops a nouveau grotesque.”
The dystopia Rasmovicz creates not only exists in his present but also in his personal memory, illustrating the ability of some institutions to stand the test of time regardless of technological advancement. Rasmovicz writes of his father, “a shaman in hunter orange,” his mother, “persisting on buttered toast / and cigarettes.” Each subject introduced contains a memory, static in time on the page, disembodied relics, barges floating “definitely upriver.”
What I enjoyed most about Idiopaths is Rasmovicz’s style: Each line contains ample decoration, telling us of people, animal, place, and time. The result of these interactions is a deteriorating natural landscape, where connection gives way to isolation, “And down the street they are pulverizing the old wilderness… the drunk mechanic is happy to be in the ditch.” From this small but substantial poetry collection, Rasmovicz allows us to see how he works through these challenges, and provides readers with beautifully crafted, thought-provoking poetry.
by Bill Rasmovicz