Bethany Mary on “oooo” by Erin Taylor

You should be longing to read Erin Taylor’s book “oooo,” because these poems are the human definition of longing. They are confessions of actually wanting people to touch you on the metro, feeling cold and distant and needing comfort. Taylor admits,

“I mainly bite my nails and sometimes have a person I admire paint them so I have a moment where they are touching my hands.”

There is loneliness in depending on strangers for these connections, but hope in humanity is restored when the connections are made. This book will doubtlessly provide some of that comfort and hope in the desperate times when you need it most – or at least it will reassure you that everyone feels this way sometimes.

There is really no such thing as being truly alone, even on empty streets.

Not even death is treated as a completely sad topic in this inspiring work. Fear of death can certainly be depressing, but the flip side of it is the challenge of giving and getting all the love we can during the short time we are alive. It’s a window of opportunity, a duty and an honor, to exist simply to love. Taylor’s poems are often about touching, hoping that shapes influence each other and that impressions on mattresses don’t fade. Even if love ends, and even if the memories end too, there are still results of this love that change some things forever.

imageedit_2_6790380410_largeThe most neverending love, according to Taylor, is from mothers and the sun. Love from others comes in different forms, is more wavering, dependent on time and circumstances. A list of sex partners in “a reflection on 2015” includes people from pedicab drivers to former bankers, and Taylor poignantly addresses sexual assault by writing,

“the next person to touch me didn’t ask permission and I didn’t consent / he is an intermission in my life, a static that is painful to look at, / I turn off the television.”

It is a hauntingly relatable image, conveying all of the fear, numbness, and avoidance of such a heartbreaking experience.

Taylor again adds hope to realism in a poem about radical self love, with the statement,

“I am going to hug myself until my bones / cement into the same position for centuries… my deteriorating emotional state is an art project.”

There is a bright side, or at least the beauty of art, in every miserable situation. There is beauty in every place, too, whether it is your home or whether you are traveling or whether the place exists only in your head. We can recreate ourselves through our surroundings, burning bridges and forging new connections, so it can be worthwhile both to stay and to move. There is a sense that whatever you do, wherever you are, you are doing okay.

I was so involved in reading the calm, relatable encouragements and acknowledgements, pure and clear in each line and the spaces between, that I was surprised when there were no pages left to turn. For all the words and images you ever need, follow Taylor on Tumblr at, Instagram @erinpoehler, and Twitter @erinisaway.

(Bottlecap Press, Poetry, 2016)

BETHANY MARY is a meditative tea snob studying gerontology in Minnesota. She was once the poetry editor of Green Blotter Literary Magazine and now reads submissions for Spark: A Creative Anthology and Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry. As an asexual advocate for a sexual assault center and blogger for Resources for Ace Survivors, she focuses on boundaries and mental health in her own writing. Some of her work is out in the world, and she rants on Twitter @bethanylmary.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.