Matthew Rohrer

They all Seemed Asleep

Octopus Books

reviewed by Ben Mirov

Matthew Rohrer's new chapbook is good. It is a long poem which is not afraid to have things explode gratuitously or have people "impaled on poles" or have its main character fire heavy artillery into a town full of people. Also, it contains politically relevant ideas and social commentary. It is both highly entertaining and poetic and the same time.

One of the best things about Matthew Rohrer's new chapbook is it is funny. It is funny in a way that is not "in your face". Here are some funny lines, which may or may not be funny out of context:

1.) "Thank you Jim now I'm / too high to meet your sister.”

2.) "Don all I did / was see some shit / happen I wish I hadn't / and then got on a night bus / which didn't even charge me / and let me off way up here / and now I'm walking to a cave"

3.) "My horoscope says I'm fat"

They All Seemed Asleep is also politically relevant. If things were to get really bad in an isolated part of America where the government has no influence, say Western Pennsylvania, and the people start to have a civil war, it would be like this chapbook. People would have to die for their beliefs and stupid people with guns would probably take control. Here are some lines that may or may not be political out of context:

1.) "No one reads the newspaper"

2.) "The opposition was in power / and their progressive / legislation was too much / for, you know, the usual / characters priests, big fat cops / old ladies / busybodies"

3.) "Thank you Jim now I'm / too high to meet your sister.

If this chapbook were a movie, it would be like Diehard; not the second Diehard or the third or the fourth one, which kind of sucked. It would be more like the first Diehard, which was "before its time" and managed to be politically prescient and relevant without sacrificing any of its badassness. If Matthew Rohrer's chapbook were a novel it would be For Whom the Bell Tolls, but it would not be as long, and it would have less Spanish people. I wrote on my blog that it would be like Farewell to Arms, but that was wrong. Completely wrong. If I were going to name this type of poetry I would call it Diehardism, because it is like a movie or a piece of literature that implicitly states it would still be awesome if it were a movie. I hope Diehardism catches on and Hollywood starts buying up poems. If it does, you heard it here first.