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Readers be warned: To read Mark D. Dunn's 2014 poetic collection Even the Weapons is to feel the headiness of imbibing too much wine. His work is at once grounded in a thick snow fall and yet still, these poems are lifted off into more cerebral, cosmic planes. The poetry within this well crafted collection fluctuates between the realms of daydream and every day without bothering with any of reality's stringent tethers. In all honesty, the second movement is what can be best described as a stream of consciousness; readers will lose themselves in a twirling dream state where the poetic lines become touch points of thought, of connection, of some kind of reality rather than simple pretty words in boxed up stanzas.
It must be said that Dunn has taken great care with this work. There are beautiful words found among the pages which are arranged in a thoughtful fashion—resulting in poems that all successfully set off a great feeling within the reader. In "The Next Poem," the speaker extols the beauty of crows, stating, "I have never seen a thunderbird, / but I've seen crows, their eyes / rimmed with starlight / waiting on the garden rail." It is a piece of such joyful admiration that it prompts tears. Dunn also manages to infuse beauty into quiet with short, delicate poems like "A Reminder" which reminds those ingesting its words that "we have lived / longer under stars / than under street lights." These poems are like drinking wine and tea at the same time. The effect of Dunn's poems are best explained by the speaker in "Poem:" "and this happens now / far away from us, / deep in our centres." The pieces are both calming and intoxicating.
While floating through the movement "Invasive Technologies: Unsaid and Scattered," readers will be pleased to discover that Dunn's words can also bite. They will read the snap of "if my vindictiveness can't cure immortality / nothing will" and other poets making their way through these pages will wince when they come upon the lines "she says poems make her sad / and mean nothing to her." Since these lines are so free from any anchor, it is a simple task for the reader to infuse them with particular meaning. Is "she" a biting indictment of a poet's self importance? A lost heart who is too pained by some mournful poetry to enjoy it in any form? Or is she something else? A child who sees through the artistic veneer to the animal within? That is entirely up to the readers' imaginations. Dunn does take care to not leave his audience swirling forever in the vast abyss of thought. He also features work which is drenched with wry humor, such as "X-Walk." This interweaving of styles makes for quite an interesting and varied reading experience.
Perhaps there is a best time of day to while away the hours with certain poets. If so, then read Mark D. Dunn's Even the Weapons in the morning (preferably a misty one) while still caressed by sleep yet open to the greetings of the sun. In the stillness is where his work truly takes root in the reader's mind. It is easy to lose the fragile lines he casts out to "live in your imagination" in the hustle and bustle of the commute, the few minutes in between meetings. His poetry is not best for those on the move.
Let Dunn soothingly wake you up.
This collection, published by BuschekBooks, is only one of Dunn's published works. His earlier poetic collections include Fancy Clapping and Ghost Music and can be purchased on Amazon.