SHARKPACK Poetry Review

An imprint of FATHOMBOOKS.

FL: Lo Kwa Mei-en’s “How to Make Love to the Greenhouse”

Hers is a geode still hollowing a room for crystals.

When someone tells me that ‘the heart is found a hand-length under the earth, turning hard / sun on the black bed of the sea,‘ my eyes flash with significant shine as I lean in—and I want more than anything for this promise to carry me straight to that black bed.

And when the assertion is followed by ‘the heart’s planted, sung little X / strewn down in a wet acre,’ I am almost unyoked of my cynic, I hold my breath to go down with that diver—but the ‘husband’s scroll’ stops me, and instead I graze the reef: I watch her rill of words, the love of repartee revealed, the wit, sensuous sound, a fetish for enjambment.

I can’t drown myself for this verse. Why? Not because it lacks virtue, skill, or gift. But because of the ‘Come & get it,’ ‘pistils out’; because the feral-aesthete grooming of this verse is too bound to a cultural machine that is in fact a machine, not a greenhouse. ‘Mum is the word’ makes for a good clever wink, but what of the heartseed deep in sod and the earnest promise of that?

Let me pause and inject this nomination:

The Feral-Aesthete

The feral is the reclaimed wilderness of a thing that’s been civilized. The feral-aesthete is the illusion of the feral, made believable by a forcefully beautiful aesthetic. But unlike make-up on the wild horse, when this one washes off, there’s just a mannequin of mirrors posed inside. And inside that, there is a great thirst for approbation.

Thus pruned and groomed to its doom, “How to Make Love to the Greenhouse” turns coy and simpering and handsomely dressed, but not transforming. When I walk out of it, there’s no vine still coiled ’round my ankle, pulling me back.

Still, there’s a leaf in my pocket. There’s the promise of an authentic depth that could have been gotten into. In a culture that champions the mask of Dionysus, but not the wildness itself (an Apollonian drunkenness), I daresay this is the work of someone whose truer talents are held back, but true nonetheless.

It’s revealed in the first lines, and the last: ‘the heart aseed, I’ll be what breaks aloud, savage / germ. A crush in the tall grass. You be a violet thrust underfoot.’

There’s a blackgreen life in the impulse of her verse—it can’t be denied. And if it can be denied, then it only matters that it’s not denied by the poet.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: