reviewed by Jake Mariani
“Mood,” by definition, is a varying and elusive term, much like Rachel Glaser’s collection of poems that leaves anyone who is fortunate enough to pick it up, piqued with not only interest but also self-examination. Again when re-examining the book’s title, in order to better understand the collection as a whole, the word mood in old English denotes military courage, though it more commonly refers to a person’s humor, temper, or disposition at a particular time. The word’s etymological definition rings throughout the book.
Taking this further, and interestingly enough, the word “mood” is only mentioned once throughout the entirety of the book, in the poem titled “I took a secret trip to have an affair”:
when I excused myself to the bathroom my lover hesitated in bed and her mood sunk to unknown depths she could tell I held my phone like a key away from the world
The tone and content of this stanza (and the poem as a whole) is consistent with other poems throughout the book. The collection has a narrative style which is evanescent, each poem like a set of separate valleys linked together. The narrative is not whole in terms of same stories or characters; what makes it complete and what links these valleys together is the faint howling of Glaser’s voice, dressed up in different themes and apparitions in each poem.
As sprawling as the ideas, themes, and moods of this book are, they have shared roots, consisting of juxtaposition, sardonicism, depressing authenticity, faith, and mysticism. Certain poems in the collection share more of these qualities and or themes than others. Poems like the first poem in the collection titled, “Sleeping ugly moon,” have a deep sense of both mysticism and faith, which meet in an intimate, dark and sexual way. For example the set of lines:
God’s vision handled my bosoms “I’ve handled hundreds and hundreds of bosoms”’ said God His eyes shone with weeping
Unique mystic imagery, which, appears steadily throughout the book, can be found in the poem titled “Playing ping-pong on the Wii, it’s hard not to channel the McEnroe/Borg HBO documentary,” which also seems to echo the book’s front cover image, which was designed by Glaser:
there are the women of the past (brushing the hairs of a wild fire)
Femininity is a theme that resonates perhaps strongest throughout the collection. What’s so intriguing are the multiple sides Glaser takes in examining this theme, and how she within the turn of the page can turn it on itself for juxtaposition. For instance, two poems that appear beside each other are “Feminine in water” and “My common lover.” Both of which seem to address the idea of femininity, one through a play on stereotypes, the other through what is either a genuine yet mystic dreaming of a lover, or a satirical look at the man who women desire to meet when brainwashed by archaic male stereo-types. What makes this man more interesting is the fact that the woman in the poem’s narrative is a noble woman, and this man is merely “common,” the only common lover she has ever taken. Taking this further, let’s look at a short stanza from each poem in order to denote their contrasts. The first stanza being from “Feminine in water”.
many feel feminine when a black man is in the room when an egg wiggles ass in a pan when a cop interrupts her evening
To plunge even deeper into Glaser’s psychological currents, the poems have what I have termed above as a “depressing authenticity.” Authenticity that’s palpable, and resonant. The aforementioned poem, “My common lover”, satirical or not, ends with the line of a women telling her fantasy:
nights we lay in bed and he told me of his modest life no, I told him gently, tell me again of mine
This self-possession is prevalent in more then one poem; it happens throughout the book. Another instance of this is in the poem titled “Donna and her Sister,” which has a narrative based around a man named Sal, a man obviously more or less discontent with his current relationship, and claiming in what read as an apathetic drawl at the end that “I’m not what you need, I think.”
This sort of psychological and philosophical warfare of the human’s self is represented almost plague-like throughout the entirety of the book. More of the narratives than not have these sort of hypocrisies that we have in ourselves and Glaser with her Moods is profound not in its unique style, but in its militant bravery to hold a mirror up to ourselves, so that we can laugh apathetically at the authenticity of the depressing lines we see in our faces and read in this book—but take note not to forget them, so as not to live in delusion.