A dynamic duo of milk and coil
Sanatorium Songs (Palimpsest Press), a debut from Hamilton’s own Marc di Saverio, conveys with its title the beautifully ironic yet aesthetically pleasing nature of a deeply disturbing brilliance. Even the cover image, a silver spoon holding barbed wire in milk like it’s cereal, does more than knock the sense out of you with a simple symbol—it also knocks the sense back into you with its crystalline honesty. To the careful observer, this collection can be judged by the cover: it is sharp, surreal, and sublime.
The title, too, tells an accurate tale. These are songs from beyond the bounds of conventional society; these are manifestos for the mutinies of the mad; these are slogans for the search for self. This is medication, prescribed by patients—those with a firsthand taste of psychotic side effects. And yet, Sanatorium Songs has its place beyond the bookshelves of Bedlam. For are we not, each of us, a tad untied? Do we not all, sometimes, lose the line of reason? In love? In war? In boredom? In a society comprised of sterile stores amongst the open sores of poverty?
Insanity is as inherent to the experience of humanity as rationality—to ignore it is tantamount to ignoring a virus, or the immunization that virus may yield. What Sanatorium Songs has achieved is a bridging of the estranged shores of ‘sane’ and ‘deranged’; it is our duty, as readers, to lead the way (from both sides!)—that we may meet in the middle and conquer the trivial river dividing us from one another.
In form, di Saverio wields his pen with the practiced frenzy of an orchestral conductor. These pieces are like the shrapnel of a classically trained mind, exploding in reverse. Taking solace and guidance in the regimen of strict, poetic structures and the tedium of translation (much like the daily routine of a mental health facility inpatient), the author exercises his creativity within conservative confines with a mischievous audacity that any budding contrarian could aspire to.
Marc takes a break from wielding his pen
At times, the rapid flow of words are woven into clusters, tight as silk, that blend the intermittent silence into fabric shrouds of soundless symbols: lucid moments lie alongside lacerations, as with “Orphaestus”—“Go to those fuck-stick rich kids cultivating an enviable ennui and reading campy pamphlets on how to become a heroin addict, who cultivate clichés as ways and aim to be properly impoverished …”At other times, as in “Code Yellow,” a quiet voice speaks between encroaching cacophonies of chaos to break the heart that hears, “… the hereditary rosary-beads of wars …”
The poems themselves are almost reminiscent of baroque sonatas composed with words alone (where vowels and consonants take the place of notes); yet their semantic intents invite a manic dialogue with the reader that builds toward a relentless fugue. Sanatorium Songs is, in reference to another screaming star, Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One. In other words, approach this book with caution—perhaps, pre-plan a therapy session—because reality, to the eyes on the other side, is a cold pill to swallow. But, still, read it.
“one year after her suicide—
I do not turn my head
to catch the falling star”
Marc di Saverio
Vermin of the world, unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains’
chemical-straight-jackets, -castrations, -lobotomies
from still-life-sycophants – the ‘sane,’
who deny ‘help’ themselves, despite demanding we please
Remember Hell? That Saint Joe’s cell held you, and I
could tell the way it felt, and then fell
demons’ screaming in the halls where laughter hides
the swelling fear inside your shattered shell—
one year after her suicide—
I, too, eloped from Saint Joe’s, though not the way you fled.
Instead, with pill-instilled will
I yawp the silent truths you should have said.
I eat the meal we meant to share. You pay the bill.
I do not turn my head.
You of all must know the ease with which I scar
but, still, I feel the need to say “I’m sorry,”
for I go on from where you ever are
a footnote in a long-lost story
to catch the falling star