Paper Champion, by Shane Jones. Illustrated by John Dermot Woods. Civil Coping Mechanisms. 122 pages. $11.95, paper.
Paper Champion, by Shane Jones, is like one hundred eighteen right hooks to your pillow.
Like all the things you almost thought you said.
It’s a volcano with a false start, plus a thousand.
It’s a book you wish you’d read when you were three, and forty-three.
If this book were an igloo, it would float.
If this book were a sign, it would say “Yes,” would never say, “Wait a second” or compare itself to an igloo.
Like, you are taking prisoners. Like, come on.
This book is a charred thumb at the hands of a BIC lighter.
It’s a good idea.
Like John Dermot Woods.
He’s a good idea.
His illustrations, they’re almost like what you almost imagined.
They are like … like a kinetic turtle.
Like a way in and a way out.
Don’t burn yourself, there’s more fire here than you can stand.
Do I need you? No. Do I need you? Yes.
This is a story about Boris and Stella.
It’s about what you could be doing right now.
Jones inside an iceberg.
Jones pile-driving a nightmare.
This is a story about what’s moving toward you at skyrocketing speeds.
At your neighbor with his sad stories—
If you were a child, you’d understand.
If this book were an oyster, it’d hold tight forever.
Like Boris and Stella, how they hold each other because, after all, this is a story about Boris and Stella, not about an oyster.
Sea turtles forever.
Oversized sharks and jellyfish and Octopus forever.
This book is like your father and mother explaining the future to your nephew.
It’s like so many reasons to be happy. It’s like exactly the same amount of reasons to not be.
If you lined up a thousand eels straight it would not equal the catastrophe inside these pages, or the circumference of the volcano raining down on your head.
This story is fire and it’s water. It’s water for fire.
Islands forever, islands forever.
Wood’s illustrations, they are not lifeboats for words to float around on.
We cannot all have a Boris, like Stella. We cannot all have a Stella, like Boris.
This story is twelve full rounds and you better have hard feet and a loving hand to squeeze.
When the volcano blows, you better have this book in your hands.
Grant Kittrell recently completed his MFA at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. He still lives there, teaching English at Virginia Western Community College. His own work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Common, Heavy Feather Review, Poemeleon, Magma Poetry and Barely South Review, among others. He is the Poetry Editor for Fiction Fix.