Launched by words “fragile and ragged / as broken marbles” Bruce Covey’s poems make huge leaps from thought to thought, instant to instant, presenting the pressures of the extreme contemporary in a new, vibrant, and often wry light. In striking images (a ten-pound honey-globe melon travels atop a tiny red wagon), Covey captures the sublime absurdity that reigns all around us. Such as having 36,245 email messages… or trying to carve your initials into a penny with an awl. Punning ingeniously on change and exchange, Covey highlights an intricate economy of the contemporary that passes in an animating circuit—almost electric—through technology, society, and personal desire.
Think about the change machine outside your car wash: you put in a dollar, the machine spits out coins. Not a neat bundle, but a jangling tray-full. Now think of William Carlos Williams: “A poem is a machine made of words.”Now give William Carlos Williams superpowers and have him beat the hell out of the car wash while musing on Pokémon, Barthes, and metapoetics, and you’ve got a sense of Bruce Covey’s Change Machine.
Change Machineis a full, full book. It is one big demonstration manifesto, an incorporation of the electric and robotic with the human interjections of rounding the bases and flying Delta. Or perhaps the other way around—the electric and robotic are interjecting the human. Or perhaps there is no hierarchy at all, but an utterly expansive approach to poetry. I doubt the Twitter quotes will ever feel dated, because Covey’s tactic of incorporation is anything but static.