Kissing Other People or the House of Fame
A book in two halves, Kissing Other People or the House of Fame opens with a sequence of poems that roam the grotty, sublime streets: patting rats, reading pamphlets, enduring labor, acquiring falafel, waving to friends. Then the book flips on a seam and invokes Chaucer as an unlikely guide through a series of dream-blocks, each autonomous yet resonant with attachments and perversions as they come and go, repeat and echo. The book is as staunch as it is warm—one arm extended in a hug and the other cupped over the mouth to shield a secret (weapon).
Kay Gabriel inherited Bernadette Mayer and Geoffrey Chaucer’s dreams. For this, I could denounce her, as Gabriel herself denounces friend and poet Stephen Ira in this book’s “Blind Item” (in exchange for his 78 cents). Instead, I accept her generosity, which offers a year’s worth of visions—between the Aprils of 2019 and 2020—rather than a single December day. She’ll tell you that her Personism is for the less fabulous, but it’s simply more collective: even sleep is a social matter, sending her to protests and parties and picket lines and visiting fellowships, demanding complicated schematics of love and its construction by meals. We get the chaise without the bother of an analyst. Minding our resistance, we ingest our theory as prescribed, but it’s okay because “‘sublate’ is a little gay.” This is no record of imaginary teeth with real fears; in dreams she drives capably. I’ve ended love and rearranged my days on the strength of advice Kay’s given me in my sleep, though I’m modern enough to know that dreams define their recipients, not the gods who deign to offer them to poets. Kierkegaard says city life made us lose faith in the dream as a source of divine will, but Kay takes God’s place. When her dream sorts us all into rooms marked kissing and not kissing, you’ll want to be on the right side.