Review: “These Days of Candy” by Manuel Paul López

"These Days of Candy" by Manuel Paul LópezThese Days of Candy by Manuel Paul López
Noemi Press, 2017
123 pages
$15.00 on Amazon

The poems in López’s new collection have philosophical and psychedelic qualities that seem to reflect the current state of our society and the title itself reminds us that we live in a time where the masses are easily placated by that which is sweet, a time that will not last forever. This is a collection that warrants multiple readings because there is so much depth that you could easily miss the first time around. In the first poem in the collection, “A DAY OF A STENOGRAPHER,” López ponders how one spends one’s life. López includes lines like:

From 1-2:25 pm subscribe to hundreds of tabloids from
around the world and cancel every last one of them the
very next day.

3:32-4:28 pm fast and dine on the clarity to which hunger
can only give rise.

Many of the stanzas demonstrate the duality between want and need as well as reason and lunacy. For all that is serious in our lives, there is always an equal dose of the absurd, especially in the current political climate. The current climate is a symptom of ignorance, a topic that López addressed in “HALLELUJAH MAMA:”

You often dream of a lamb feeding alone in a vast, empty
stadium with a bouquet of geraniums sticking out of its
Ass. Who knows what that means, but it seems fitting for a
Muppet’s pun at the end of the day.

What does anything mean in a world that is so absurd? Many of López’s characters seem to be on a journey in search for an answer, which does not exist. Other characters are complacent. The dilemma of complacency is explored throughout the collection for example with ETDB, a character names from urban dictionary: entitled tech douchebag.

I don’t know if I can assume that responsibility. Mouse
Pad. I don’t know if I’m capable of anything. (ETDB
drops his head and draws a widow spider in the dirt
with his foot.)

The quote above is from Section II, THESE DAYS OF CANDY, which is an amazing pre-apocalyptic journey where parts are aligned with instructions to play songs by various artists such as Sigur Rós, Dirty Beaches, Gonjasufi, Salvia Plath, Brian Eno, Twelve Hour Turn, and David Bowie. I love what López did here, it is crazy and I actually shared parts of this with my students and they were blown away. In this section, López also dabbles with concrete poetry and text style variations, which adds to the visual experience. He does all this while exploring how technology has impacted society:

Mmmm…I had a dream, ETDB, Mmmm…about the
end of us, Mmmm…and it didn’t look good, Uh-uh.
Mmmm…our water evaporates, and we’re all left hold-
ing cellular phones trying to make the one call that will
save us. But the numbers are always wrong, they’re always
wrong, ETDB, It’s horrible.

This is part of a conversation between ETDB and Mousepad Becky. I could go on and on, but I think that you just have to read this book! I have to mention my second favorite piece in the collection, which is “Shovel,” a piece where “The Saddened Man researches Craigslist and finds a small puppy,” that once he finally purchases, dies in his care. This puppy is, of course, a metaphor, which The Saddened Man buries, “at his old elementary school near the swing set.” And that’s just it, so much of our hopes and dreams are buried in our childhood and López’s characters constantly revisit their childhood in search of that something that might get them through THESE DAYS OF CANDY. Yes, this is the most innovative, timely and amazing book of poems that I have read in awhile and I will, without a doubt, revisit this book often.