from The 13th Warrior Review:
A Cosmic Clown's Science Fiction Religion
By Robert O'Neal (The Silver Wonder Press)
Why do middle class, middling, middle-of-the-road poets like Billy Collins get to be Poet Laureates while Robert O'Neal is all but unknown? Perhaps it's because, as the author himself says, "he'd rather be understood than accepted." Rebel to the core, O'Neal has the temerity to shake his fist at the existential dilemma and tell "the dictator" to go fuck himself. And no one does it with the same sardonic charm and masterful vocabulary -- he who ploughshares philosophical discourse into brain-piercing poetic bullets, an almost mystical defense against the duplicity of authority:
"I was there, tethered unaware,
the dictator's amniotic brainwash
percolating around me,
a cauled euteronaut traumatized
by the contradiction ushering him
from one darkness to a greater darkness..."
His anger and confusion resonates off the page and echoes the anger and confusion that many of us feel on our best days when we dare remove our heads from our hind parts and take a look around:
is brushing slime on tapeworms.
has a name commensurate
with his monomaniacal ambitions.
feud over the span of years between placenta & crypt.
not sure which one continues to bless us
with Kalashnikov culture & pernicious viruses."
out of a shaved vagina --
(The brow is always inaccessible!
Pelvic bones are the ignoble crowning
all of us receive in compensation.)
put us there
in the first place?
& why can't we refuse
to expose ourselves to uncompromising light?
& you wonder why
all newborns have clenched fists."
What else can be said about O'Neal's poetry? Whether one shares his world view or not, one must stand in awe of his ability to stroke the neurons and asshole at the same time. He certainly stands head and shoulders above many of the so-called poets out there slopping their ink to the white page. Certainly, he's worth the two bucks for this chapbook.
--reviewed by JCE