A Route Obscure and Lonely – A Review

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Review by Sandra J. Lindow
This special review features three video poems by LindaAnn LoSchiavo

A Route Obscure and Lonely. LindaAnn LoSchiavo. (Wapshott Press, 2020) 50 pp. $7.50 paperback. https://www.wapshottpress.org/poetrylandia/a-route-obscure-and-lonely/

Poet, journalist, dramatist LindaAnn LoSchiavo’s A Route Obscure and Lonely is inspired by Speaker for the Dead Emeritus, Edgar Allan Poe, and the women he pedestalled, then put in the ground. “Haunted by ill angels only,” (Poe, “Dreamland,” 1844.) and graced by Conrad Bradford’s eye-catching cover of a weeping woman in a white dress, this elegant collection of 33 gothic poems explores a dreamland of old anchorites, anxious ghosts, and cuckolding gods, offering intimate views of dangerous and/or ecstatic sexual relationships that we would not wish for our daughters.

Most poems are in the form of dramatic iambic pentameter monologues. Some include abductions. “Rendezvous in the Forest” contains this unsettling stanza:

You plucked me from Earth, softening my limbs
In chemical light. I became your mate,
Lit from within, like mushrooms that can glow
In darkness, bioluminescent, strange
Befitting me, the beams igniting flesh

Or a psychic hears from Ceres about her “Son-in-Law from Hell”

While picking flowers, earth’s crust split apart.
A strange black chariot appeared and dragged
The maiden somewhere.  Zeus claimed not to see.
Impossible since he’s omniscient, right?

Relationships between the sexes are fraught with secret off-stage violence: “A Ghost Revisits a Tattoo Parlor” is particularly evocative, describing toxic possessiveness. It begins “Like marriage, this will hurt, a sacrament/ That marks flesh, inks and needles.” Later “His rage, suppressed for now, will take that throat, / Stain it with thumbprints.” Finally, “Inside a heart” … “her beloved’s name” … “useful when cops find a battered corpse” … “nametag for the morgue.”

But males aren’t the only predators. The modernized myth of “Aeole and Odysseus on the Line” begins via dating app and includes

The soft home of my mouth will welcome you.
Imagining your sweaty sunburnt self
Lashed to the mast arouses me no end.
I love restraints, initiating tongue’s
Lap dance till passion’s river bursts my banks.

Although sometimes destructive, passion itself is understood as necessary and natural: “Vulcan and Venus” contains the lines: “But genitals are tools men use to forge/ Their future with.  Unused, this tool becomes/Another artist who let talent waste” and “Cupid and Psyche” suggests “The lover’s prize is friction —— Cupid knows —— /As sex re-models the interior, / Begins to dangerously mural a mind.”

A Route Obscure and Lonely revisits a past of faded elegance where bats are “fallen/ Angels illegible in their descent” and “Unnatural deeds carry threads forward/ Like the black widow spider, breast-stroking /

Through gossamer voids under ragged moons.” Readers who love Poe and see the world in shades and shadows will love this well-wrought collection.


And Now…
Three Video Poems from LindaAnn LoSchiavo

Sandra Lindow has served as Vice President and Acting President of SFPA. Her poetry has been seen in various markets including Asimov’s, Star*Line, Dreams and Nightmares, Dwarf Stars, and the Rhysling Anthologies. Her spec related editing includes Dwarf Stars, Eye to the Telescope, and most recently the Rhysling winners anthology, Alchemy of Stars II.  She lives on a hilltop in Menomonie, Wisconsin where she waits out the pandemic and attempts various strategies to keep varmints from eating her vegetables and perennials.


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