In his moving debut collection, Matt Rasmussen faces the tragedy of his brother’s suicide, refusing to focus on the expected pathos, blurring the edge between grief and humor. In Outgoing, the speaker erases his brother’s answering machine message to save his family from “the shame of dead you / answering calls.” In other poems, once-ordinary objects become dreamlike. A buried light bulb blooms downward, a “flower / of smoldering filaments”. A refrigerator holds an evening landscape, a “tinfoil lake”, “vegetables / dying in the crisper”. Destructive and redemptive, Black Aperture opens to the complicated entanglements of mourning: damage and healing, sorrow and laughter, and torment balanced with moments of relief.
In Black Aperture, Matt Rasmussen soars into the great sky of grief with lyric, ardent, and spare ingenuity. Grief’s woeful light is turned pristine rose, every monsoon and spiny edge awash in beauty. A tender profound sagacity is mined and hewn. What unfolds by way of the speculations, facts, and dreams of a brother’s suicide is a debut collection that is pitiless, essential, and keen as birth. Rasmussen crafts a new symphony of what it means to feel, fly above, over and beyond, one’s broken heart.