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VELVET RODEO by Kelly McQuain reviewed by Matthew Girolami • Cleaver Magazine
VELVET RODEO by Kelly McQuain Bloom Books, 42 pages reviewed by Matthew Girolami Between a single dawn and dusk, I shadowed a speaker through adolescence and into adulthood, from young summers in West Virginia to liquored confessions in Mexico. Kelly McQuain’s Velvet Rodeo is a rare chapbook that spans such lengths—though, that is one of poetry’s potentials: every verse paragraph a vignette. And yet while McQuain’s poems are distinctively narrative, they are rife with imagery; from nature to anatomy, McQuain’s imagery evokes experience, from discovering one’s body to discovering parental fallibility. It is fitting then that Velvet Rodeo’s opening poem, “Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers,” begins spiraling outward, from pastoral aesthetics to something more existential: Your brother and sister run to catch the horizon. You wade slowly through the lashing, alive with combustion, eager for bursting. This hill, once a forest, has long been cut low, untilled, rock-strewn, stubbled … chop! chop! read more!