No One Gains Weight in the Shoulders reviewed on Poet Hound

Poet Hound, poetry review and resource blog, reviewed No One Gains Weight in the Shoulders:

Leah Angstman’s chapbook, No One Gains Weight In The Shoulders, comes from Alternating Current’s Propaganda Press for a mere $6.00 and is well worth it for the collection which ranges from righteous anger to amusing anecdotes, celebrity clichés to airport diatribes. Her visual comparisons are superb and unexpected. I am more than happy to share several poems with you and hope you are as entertained by them as I am:  
I almost wanted to ignore this poem as a result of the title and how Heath Ledger is starting to become a rather cliché topic in the news, but Leah redeems herself with this poem so I hope you’ll find it amusing as well:  
“mr ledger, sir, it’s too late for your autograph” 
there’s that magical age
when all celebs shall transform
from being youth into being
all growed up into being
gone  
that statistic again  
and in the shock of the moment
it has taken me this long
to pen it  
for the outpouring blubbering
placation of sudden grief
from traditional media
to become solid honest words
that make sense
instead of drivel
and could have should have would haves
and let me wet my lips for
the kissing of societal high standard buttocks
right on the balloon knot
if you will  
i didn’t worship you
i waited till that tide fell in and out
to write you now for your autograph
you weren’t some teen idol
boy band style obsession for me
as with some girls
you certainly were  
morbidly so
still are  
instead you were a human
a being of flesh and brain matter
severe style and headlined vessels
rhythm and statued torso of skeletal frame
the same as we are all skeletons under there
i saw you as a shame
a mirror a page turning fresh look at
someone not celebrity  
but
my age  
consumed by the same starvation
equal attention to detail
probably ate the same grub liked similar music
hated the government on metaphoric levels
with similar intensity  
transferred pain from page
to bones
not to
implants  
my age
exactly
give or take the trivial counting
of days in between and gone by
seemingly of no importance to you now  
something is very human about that
not that untouchable silicone and
academy award and dolce
and prada level of attempting beingness
but very much on my human level  
and not just that thought
that it could have been me
instead  
but that
if it were
these past days of unimportance
would not have existed at all
i would not have eaten at ole cito today
or kissed my lover
or known that my azalea is finally poking
its head out of its little hood
i would not know this day’s clouds
or local brewery special
or that my cat has newly discovered
clawing the fresh tablecloth
that i would not be admiring  
prior moments are as far
as i would have come 
I just love the lines: “the kissing of societal high standard buttocks/right on the balloon knot” because what a perverse visual that brings to mind! How many poets can achieve such a vision that is comical and perverse all at once? Ms. Angstman also carefully avoids common phrases with these lines: “instead you were a human/a being of flesh and brain matter.” I’m so happy she didn’t use “flesh and blood” but brain matter also shows her respect for Heath’s creative mind and not just his looks as are focused by “boy band style obsession…like some girls.” All in all it is a tribute poem that maintains a tongue-in-cheek attitude while somehow being reverent at the same time, well done! 
This next poem I found comical and entertaining as I am sure you will, too. 
“airports” 
are the ultimate local television show
the cartoon people not realizing
they are on the screen
pick noses
blatantly stare at fat people
one reads a magazine that says
raunchy sexy sex
exclamation point
i wonder if she is reading it now
i search her face for signs of raunchy sexiness
but none is there
a baby across the way
has booties i want
in my size
and canada dry is not vernors 
i am sitting cross-legged in the ugly levittown-style
mass seating projects area of gate e2b
in the entirely unnavigable boston logan
without all the dailies that de-stress me
instead there are tabloids
and bottled water that costs as much
as a normal starbucks
and starbucks that costs as much
as a normal ferrari 
an elderly lady sips a martini
and eats a toasted bread sandwich deli item
while staring at me penning thoughts
staring back at her 
when she approaches with her bags
she says to me
my
you look as if you are a poet of sorts 
yes
of sorts
i say
and shudder at the connotations of the word 
she says she once was a poet too
her small wrinkled eyes
blazing with a young passion
that hadn’t been put there from any martini 
she was stoking a fire
that was all her own 
i tore the last page from my notebook
and handed it to her 
if you like it
it’s a gift
i say 
she doesn’t even look at it
just says
it’s a gift
and folds it for safe-keeping in her pocket 
i like to think it changed her life
somewhere in the skies of iowa
and didn’t just end up
in the washer
with last week’s
grocery list 
The beginning makes me laugh, especially the magazine “raunchy sexy sex” because Leah again brings a perversity to light in a comical and understated way. She narrows her poem from the crowd perspective to the unlikely connection to a woman drinking a martini who approaches her of her own free will to ask about Leah’s being a poet. How strange that I’ve encountered this same scenario in an airport myself once. I love that the martini-drinking lady’s “small wrinkled eyes/blazing with a young passion/that hadn’t been put there by a martini” invokes Leah to tear out a page of poetry for her. What a wonderful little gesture—then of course brought into reality with the hopes that the poem “didn’t just end up/in the washer/with last week’s/grocery list.” I really hope that it didn’t and I wonder how many of you out there who write poems have had similar encounters with strangers in public who came alive at the word poetry? Please let me know of your own encounters such as this in the comments section. 
The last poem I will share with you is one you surely have either seen or experienced for yourself. As you know, I love poems about everyday life and this is another fabulous one: 
“the bored wife” 
a wife is bored 
her husband is talking on his phone
and from her expression
it has been some time this way 
neither knows i am staring
but i emphatically
inadvertently am
feeling the wife’s numbness
sending its shadow
all the way over here 
she fingers her ring
sucks on it a little and
then moves her teeth up to
the tips of her nails 
for a minute i see
what i must look like to others
when i am nervous
or anticipatory 
he is a chatterbox my goodness
business then golf then back
to business he winks and
smiles a bit at her
in an i’ll be with you soon manner
that she reads as
please take a number
minus the please 
her eyes so grey
dulled over
two bricks sunken into
clay with no pulse or momentum
her hair fried out on the tips
from too much coloring
and she occasionally pulls it
back from her eyes then back
over her eyes as it’s the
only softness she can touch 
her attention wanders to the
busybody server who seems to be
busy with everything except serving 
and just then you show up
i look away from them and to you
we both smile when our eyes meet 
i say honey please
turn off your phone
just in case 
Like I said, a poem everyone can relate to. I have my own soap box on the way people abuse polite manners with cell phones but I’ll spare you the lecture. I love the description of the wife’s eyes as “two bricks sunken into/clay with no pulse or momentum,” which is a beautiful way of expressing emotion. I’ve never thought of comparing eyes to sunken bricks. I also love the lines regarding the wife’s hair as “the/only softness she can touch” because it shows just how cold and hard the husband is in his actions at the table. You are certainly made to feel sorry for the wife and you champion the poet’s resolve when her own loved one enters the scene and she asks him to turn off his phone. Leah does a great job of describing emotion through unusual comparisons. 
I hope you found these poems as entertaining and amusing as I did. [ ... ]