yes i understand and i wish to continue by James Schiller

James Schiller
yes i understand and i wish to continue
April 2015
Nashua, NH, and Greenfield, MA
Slope Editions
94 pages
ISBN: 9780988522138
Buy here 

"your shit is broken …" 

Despite the fact that this first line of the book could easily summarize, placate, defend, and define all the poems in this expository of structure-fucking, raw, and refreshingly crude social commentary, I was quite compelled to read on because I certainly understand and I wished to continue.

Depth and surface roll around together in the sheets in James Schiller’s work.

yes i understand and i wish to continue takes the reader down the rabbit hole and right back up to topsoil of our gnarled existence. It is an unafraid, unapologetic prose that calls a tangle a tangle, says it like it is, and like it isn’t. The tangle is social, psychological, religious, scientific, electronic, and is at once a knot, a loose end, and an elegant weave (they are all the same, after all—the wrapping of one thing around another). He appears to type whatever comes out, in whatever order, volume, and orientation is most true in any (and mysteriously it seems like all) moments. There wasn't a day that I read these poems when their cadence didn’t call out some new detail of the world right in front of me: 

did you ever think the product of every image
is your eyes chugging light
and maybe your eyes have a drinking problem
and are behaving irresponsibly 

The poems unleash a verbal snare that hooks the reader in the nuances of everything from the oddities of the interwebs to the vulnerability of being in love, from social media to the structure of atoms, from customer service to time, God, and human creation. Depth and surface roll around together in the sheets in James Schiller’s work. He doesn’t spend much time distinguishing the difference between them:

in the glue parts of day
my soul is a ceiling fan
gently molesting chunks of air
waiting for the ceiling to dissolve
so god can reveal something amazing 

This volume of words feels like a chronicle of the modern day. I would like to put a copy of this book in a time capsule and, assuming there will still be dirt to dig in 1,000 years, invite some future species through a space-time memo to dig it up and mind-meld it for a glimpse into history. This shit is broken! This is what it felt like, looked like. It made a raucous noise like these poems. And, also like these poems, it was brilliant and beautiful too: 

i was thinking the other day if a buffalo killed a person
for their iPhone and let the body go to waste
that would be pretty ironic
i was thinking earlier today
how everyone is like a warrior
approaching reality with courage, face-first
and killing the parts they don’t approve of
even the cowardly understand
the world is a celebrity
who keeps reinventing its persona
because we demand it 

Many of these poems will pull you deep into sentiment and then yank you right back out. It is hard not to laugh, while maybe wanting to yell, kind of like being on an actual roller coaster. If the mood swing is too much for you, you may not understand it yet, but I still suggest that you continue. 

If you are attached to lyrical or musical structure in poetry, this work may feel like a vice grip prying your skull apart. Read it anyway. You may have to turn the book sideways, get a little lost. I guarantee you’ll find something relevant. 

As Matt Hart wrote in his introduction, "I am slayed by this work. Come and get it. Let it get you." 

Cori Coccia
Nomadic Press
Coccia is an educator, kite-flier, beach-comber, belly laugher, adventurer, and lucid dreamer. Sometimes she writes it down. Her professional bio can be found here: