The Underneath (Paperback)
"In Christopher Cokinos' deliciously horrifying new book, THE UNDERNEATH, an unnerving ventriloquism occurs--narratives of abuse, abandonment, and assault are tucked into the folds of seemingly mundane curtains, trapped beneath ceilings, behind doors. Conversing with, and ultimately reinventing the compulsions of Rene Magritte (The Treachery of Images, et. al.), these poems filter surrealistic concerns through neuroscience, dream through allusion. In Cokinos' bizarro world, fear and vacuum cleaners belong on the same insidious list, and our circulatory system is comprised of desert fauna. In this way, the monsters of mythologies both invented and invoked are saddled with the roles of unlikely avatars, finally forced to confront their experiences with bodily trespass. The result is a frightening, exhilarating, and oddly cleansing wild ride.
-- MATTHEW GAVIN FRANK, author of The Mad Feast and Preparing the Ghost
"The presiding spirit in Christopher Cokinos' darkly wondrous THE UNDERNEATH is Magritte, which lends an air of insouciant mystery to this marvelous volume. Readers are invited to become 'hunters at the edge of night, ' to enter a world we cannot understand, but like Dickinson (the other presiding spirit of this collection) only witness. We find the young girl ('delicate monster') who eats birds; the merman who's eerily told, when he asks how many times he's been hung from a gibbet, that 'Counting is like crying . . . and let's begin with one'; and the lovers who, hiding from each other, cover their faces with cloth to kiss (wittily, Cokinos suggests, their 'tongues must] taste like tulle'). I'm entranced by Cokinos' exquisite inquiry into the way metaphor layers the surface of language, and the delightful materiality of his method, 'So belly down. Scootch close to that thorn tipped with June'
-- CYNTHIA HOGUE, author of In June the Labyrinth