this shouldn’t be beautiful but it was & it was all i had so i drew it by Keegan Lester
Slope Editions, 2017
Reviewed by Alicia Leon and Isabel Cruz
A captivating collection of “ghost notes” on God and coffee, selfies and death, post-nuclear apocalypses, ancient football stadiums, and the Californian Mountains, Keegan Lester’s this shouldn’t be beautiful but it was & it was all i had so i drew it indulges in the nostalgia of the past and an ever-changing America. The experiences he draws upon may be grounded in American soil, but they speak to a universal soul:
as sudden, morning begins
a carnival from the next world over. from the next world over
entertainers is all we are.
In this stanza, Lester brings the specific experience of an American carnival into the universal experience of being a performer of an identity that’s meant for public consumption; the performance of this identity put on over the choice of being at peace with oneself. This stanza also includes the experience of becoming a ghostly memory, as moments and people move from one world to “the next world over”–a feeling and image conjured throughout his poetry.
Lester also writes in poetic prose, and steers away from the grammatical rules of punctuation and capitalization. This writing style resembles that of a casual stream of conscious, like notes taken before ultimate moments of forgetfulness:
humans are divinity plus movement plus bed sheets & a car driving away from town against night & a red planet in the northern lake of black hemisphere & the shots scattering the trees.
In this stanza, Lester once again, is able to tie specific experiences to larger ideas and themes. In this one whimsical sentence, Lester places together an image of the divine alongside those of space and intimate human interaction. His descriptions in this stanza are tied to the connections between small moments in time, and it is through these descriptions that Lester is able to create one of the many beautiful images he paints for his readers throughout his book.