The Lyte Funkie Ones, better known as LFO, were responsible for the infamous 1999 classic, “Summer Girls.” A laundry list of non sequiturs strung together to create a single—allegedly about girls who wear Abercrombie and Fitch—that topped the music charts with seemingly unrelated lines like “When you take a sip/you buzz like a hornet/Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets.” Elijah Pearson’s a nt may read like a series of punchy non sequiturs, but those grappling with mental illness can see that unlike the nonsensical LFO song, these poems are a day in the life of a depressed person’s stream of consciousness and are imbued with meaning. Albeit, an especially quippy depressed person, but still.
Nearly anyone who grew up during the aughts has a twitter timeline riddled with lines on perpetual sadness, crippling ennui, and of course, tied for first place are anxiety and depression. For better or worse, we have a penchant for oversharing our current mental state. a nt proves that it’s for the better.
a nt is swift in its thought process and readers must keep abreast as they’re thrust from tender concept to tender concept. Elijah is economical with their words, but they say so much. The following poem reduced their friend Paulina to tears:
close your eyes
i forgot to buy milk again.
Elijah refers to the above as a “commentary about domestic partnerships.” They add, “re: me smoking weed and forgetting to do the things that are asked of me.” This poem is devastating and deceptively so. It indirectly reminds readers of every petty fight they’ve ever had with a significant other re: forgetfulness. And then one remembers the culmination of those petty fights: separation and the dissent towards loneliness that follows with prompt diligence
Some moments in this collection are less subtle in their act of punching the air out of us. Moments such as the following are a swift kick to the lower extremities:
on halloween of 2012, i started dating my first girlfriend. on November 2nd of 2012, i was admitted into a psychiatric ward for attempted suicide. She wrote me a letter that said “i will never understand what you’re going through but i am here for you.” a year late she sent me a text that said “i think i cut too deep and i don’t know what to do.”
A few instances of pause, like the one above, reveal that millennials aren’t just a bulbous, walking “i’m crying” tweet. There’s always depth lurking behind the references to popular culture. And sometimes, the pop culture itself is the key.
On the final page of this collection, closer to the bottom and slightly right-aligned, is the message: “gilmore girls season 4 episode 20.” Some might find themselves rubbing the page between their thumb and index finger, certain that there must be one after it. One that could provide context for the former. Alas, such is not the case. But only because that would be redundant.
This particular episode of Gilmore Girls, “Luke Can See Her Face,” is one that revolves around failure, self-help, and coming face-to-face with the truth. This is an episode replete with emotional tumult, but rather than providing a synopsis and comparing it to their life, Elijah gives us all we need: the title. For any Gilmore Girls fan, the episode title alone elicits a bevy of feelings, and being that it’s at the end, this seems like Elijah’s way of removing themselves and their specific brand of depression from the scenario and allowing us to wallow in our own. That, or this was a cruel—and effective—method of ushering readers into an unplanned Gilmore Girls rewatch session, forcing all responsibilities to fall to the wayside. Either way, this is a poetry collection so worthy of pausing Gilmore Girls to read.
(BOTTLECAP PRESS, POETRY, PAPERBACK, 2016)
NEYAT YOHANNES is an Eritrean-American writer who’s from LA, but just moved to the Bay. By day, she doles out ice packs to kids who don’t need it as an elementary school office lady turned unofficial nurse. She spends the rest of her waking hours writing, attempting to be more formidable like Whitley Gilbert, and trying to keep Drake lyrics from constantly spilling out of her mouth. You can read some of her published work here. She tweets as@rhymeswithcat and occasionally blogs here.