Mannequin in the Nude, by Logan February. PANK Books, April 2019. 86 pages. $16.00, paper.
… My story was much too long, so
I cut it to bits.
—from Portrait of The Mannequin as my Brother
instance, homoerotic. For instance, a boy who eats glass.
—from Boy Lolita
… When I died, I stopped trembling. Imagine a mechanical
boy being powered down.
—from Ars Moriendi
With a lyric that pushes back on performative dissection, Logan February’s Mannequin in the Nude shortens the afterlife with an understanding that birth is an amnesia triggered by resurrection. Is one who searches, searchable? Is home what separates us from god? Might one exist to seduce those who don’t? How does one become the prey of that which looks devoured? February anchors such wanderings in the core mortality of exploration and asks, in overtaken revelations, for an impression of the straightened spine. Here we know mannequin as the map where surgery goes to lose its art and here we mourn mannequin as the syntax of body type and here we cast mannequin as a hologram of its former spectacle. And there, perhaps in the acquitted bareness of a body gardening in the blood-glow of self, one might see an injured blur that steals the spotlight from healthier evasions. Which is to say: this work hurts, is hurt, and edges forth. Witches come in threes, in red, black, and white, to clothe the trinity that storytelling has charged to kill, to haunt, and to protect. A doomed narrator holds fast to vignette as a type of theft. God is a watcher activated by the two empty stomachs that imagery has for eyes. Scar is the Lazarus of self-harm.
Dense, wise, gentle, flippant … February is all-in on appetite and on the ahistoric hungers that render thirst an erasure. It is hard not to hear, or re-hear, the clawing being done, or already finished, in the white space that February so lovingly drugs with angels and existential mimics. For all the focus of its confessional deletions, it does not leave invisible the ink of attraction.
Dear song, dear rumor, dear spell: With sign as oxygen and symbol as tank, this is a breathing and post-breathless work that narrows for the claustrophobe the airway of other. One cannot be stripped of embodiment. Dressed in nothing, this is light.
Barton Smock lives in Columbus, OH, with his wife and four children. He is the author the chapbook infant*cinema (Dink Press, 2016) and the editor of isacoustic.