The experience of reading Ben Mirov’s new book of poetry, Hider Roser, is like what the experience of being alone inside of someone else’s head might be like: it’s a place where one encounters fragments of dreams, splintered selves, and half-thoughts, along with books, authors, memories, and other detritus that makes up a life. Hider Roser is composed of poems that are slightly disorienting and yet somehow familiar as if Mirov has been able to tap into his subconscious and relay something universal and yet original and strange.
The poems that make up this collection are largely about the interior—the speakers alone with their thoughts. Like a contemporary Rimbaud, Mirov interrogates himself through a derangement of the senses and what he discovers is frequently sad and occasionally nonsensical. In “A Kiss on the Purplish Light,” the speaker says, “My mind began to wander,” which largely explains the movement that occurs from line-to-line in many of the poems throughout the collection. They frequently move in a way that one’s thoughts might, shifting from subject-to-subject as one thought skips to the next. The disjointedness that occurs feels natural; there is nothing forced here. However, this is not to say there is not an art to this. Every poem is concise and well-crafted.
One of the derangements that occurs in the collection is the distortion of language as nouns become verbs, “You’ve mistaked a lot of mades” (from “For Ben Mirror”), and closely related words take the place of what would be expected, as in the poem “The Poem Addresses Ben Mirov in a State of Inconsolable Grief”:
Return to your bone.
Park your star in the garbage.
Go back in tide and climb into sled.
Try not think about
Amanda’s amputated nest
or the broom where Greg
cradled a nun in his hands.
What can you do but rake up next morning
and make yourself some legs?
In “Snowliloquy” the language derangement helps to create a distance for the speaker, as if he is embarrassed by his own feelings and so turns to self-mocking:
Loneliness is something more
than nothingness. It’s Snowbody
touching your thigh in bed. Snowbody
chopping the peppers for the soup. Snowbody
calling your name from the control room
late one night. When Snowone is around
you think about them. Or you gauge
the rate of your disintegration.
The exact amount of detritus
you’ll leave floating through your friends.
Maybe you fall apart. Or you break off
a shard and send it to someone else.
A crystal stranger taking off their mask.
No more transmissions for tonight.
Signed, Yours Truly, Ben Mirov
Or perhaps it isn’t a distancing mechanism, but rather simply that the transmission isn’t coming through clearly and it’s the static that is creating the “s” sound. Nonetheless, there is something sad and tender about the presence of snow (and also something that recalls childish “it’s snot” jokes). On the next page, the title “Dove Life” easily echoes “love life,” for once the reader enters this world of multiplicities and malleable language, the incongruities appear everywhere.
Hider Roser offers a lot more than this language play. There are ominous figures, like Dave the radiologist and Mr. Squiggles, a dying possum named after the speaker’s god. There are prose poems, prophecies, and sets of instructions. There are gorgeous lyric poems like “Containment Unit for Mysterious Green Vapor” and “From the Corner of My Bathysphere I Write to You of Love.” There are a multiplicity of Ben Mirov’s including one kept in an aquarium and fed whole-grains and leafy greens. And in “Central Nervous,” there is a nightmare of offices, from the Office of the Fuck You Lunch to the Office of the Never-Ending Blink.
Overall there is an uncanniness to this collection. At first the poems may seem strange and perhaps even somewhat difficult, but there is something eerily familiar and comfortable there too. The speakers within Hider Roser are not just interrogating themselves; they are also asking the reader to look deeper too. In “Candles,” the speaker instructs, “Now open your eyes. / Not those eyes. / The eyes inside you.”