Feature - Entropy

Review - Boog City

"In a time when every week seems to bring more news of atrocity, there is something timely about Mike Lala’s In The Gun Cabinet (TAR) because there is a violence, a fundamental trauma and horror at the core of this chapbook of poems. Here the reader is confronted with a jagged, hemmed in space—a stage, a box, a black box, a theater—in which “the bodies you / inhabit through your life / stand up like guns inside the doors.” The speaker leads us through it, at times hollow and detached—“empty space, window / pane, small space, then screen”—but also processing memory, loss, even sexual trauma, becoming “Not violence (though it felt so) not thought / but something else, crushing / fear.” Especially gripping is the way that the intimate and the violent become so closely entwined; unsettling memories seem to haunt the text as the speaker recalls a “childhood where my father lifted me / to straddle the 30-millimeter, hydraulically driven, seven-barreled / Gatling cannon / on the nose of the plane he flew.” There is a circular narrative at play, a kind of performance as certain kinds of theater—the theater of war, the theater of loss—are exposed, laid bare. This jagged, arresting work asks us to consider “what parts of the story were you told” and “what parts of the story / did you take to be your own.” Lala’s debut full-length collection, Exit Theater, selected by Tyrone Williams as the winner of the 2016 Colorado Prize for Poetry, will be out later this year."

- Mark Gurarie