BATON ROUGE – 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,” now available from LSU Press opens to the complicated entanglements of mourning: damage and healing, sorrow and laughter, and torment balanced with moments of relief.
Rasmussen’s poetry has appeared in Gulf Coast, H_NGM_N, and at Poets.org. A founding coeditor of Birds LLC, a small, independent poetry press, he is a 2012–2013 McKnight Artist Fellow and teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College.