I hesitate to use the genre fiction term “page turner” for a collection of poetry, yet there is something compellingly readable about Brandon Thomas DiSabatino’s collection 6 Weeks of White Castle /n Rust. It flows and connects like the best album by your favorite band.
“Terrified of Breaking Something Beautiful”
The disposition for these poems appears early when DiSabatino states he is “terrified / of breaking something beautiful / though it’s breaking all the time.” This is his orientation toward the world, a crumbling, fast-food wreck of a nation that is an appalling as a car accident you can’t pull your eyes from while at the same time being the kind of wreck all the passengers might walk away from with little more than tinnitus. The viewer, the reader, never quite knows which it will be, even after feeling as if you’ve witnessed the entire episode.
The world is a seedy, bleak, relentless place in these poems. He concludes another poem with the haunting parenthetical “(sound of someone looking for / something they didn’t mean to throw away)”. Or in the next poem: “a church organ echoes / like a last paycheck inside.” That poem is titled “/n i knew what you meant about camus – we’re all doomed (2nd rain song)”, where he also says “/n you’re gonna tell me / about all the trains getting lost in this / place. / i haven’t seen them / going anywhere else.” To DiSabatino, America is a place you can feel lost. It always has been. No illusion of grandeur present.
A Throwback Poet
These misanthropic poems might draw comparisons to Bukowski, which would be a disservice to DiSabatino, as his poetry suffers no afflictions of bacchanalian misogyny. Maybe it’s their throwback quality. Because DiSabatino feels like a mid-twentieth century poet. As if Kerouac had been enjoyable to read for anyone besides an eighteen-year-old down-and-out. Moreover, this beautifully structured collection owes its high readability to DiSabatino’s diction and ear for language as the lines zip, propelled by his clever styling of “and” as “/n”, which jolts the syntax along every time it appears with a little pulse of electricity. There is nothing archaic in how these poems zing.
These poems are breathless and contemplative at the same time. Perhaps it feels breathless for the lack of oxygen afforded the poems’ characters, who seem like lost souls searching for hope. For instance, “no one can return to the miracle can they.” A line made more poignant in its lack of a question mark. The narrator knows miracles will not define his existence. But he still wants one, still hangs onto the chance of an occurrence. Shortly after, “because her beauty is simple / you mistake it for something you can hold.”
The mark of well-roundedness comes in the funnier, no-less-biting moments, such as the poems “nascar haiku” or “it’s not you, it’s capitalism (epilogue for henry gone).” With 6 weeks of white castle /n rust, DiSabatino establishes himself as a talent worth savoring.