R.L. Raymond’s latest is a short, sharp shock of a narrative poem, mixing the ashes of Revelations-based mythology with graphic urban streetscapes, stirring old tropes with fresh imagery.
The skeletal story that makes up the chapbook is based on the biblical martyr Antipas, who perished in the well-worn service of good v. evil. It features a faceless/nameless cast waging battle in a brief but tortured drama, the fractured scenes of which Raymond stretches out to fit over themes of revenge, rage, sin and sacrifice with tough, raw, sinewy language:
“Somewhere/behind rusted vans/and neon vulgarities/the panhandlers change shifts/darkening the letters/on their placards/with stolen markers/or charcoaled wine corks”.
As opposed to some of Raymond’s more immediate work (see: Sonofabitch Poems) antipas is an alm of High Modernism for a post post-modern age – and one that offers a deeper dive for the reader. At just 17 pages and 11 brief sections, it doesn’t seem to threaten much of your time, but to sift through its shreds of meaning and parse the dense allusions will demand – and reward – much of your attention.
Launch your study here.