Salty as a Lip by Jason Mashak

Rarely does poetry turn me on, but Jason Mashak‘s collection, Salty as a Lip, practically unbuttoned my cardigan. These poems are just plain sexy.

While mostly short in length, the endings pack on a punch so hard, they’ll leave you bruised as the assembly line men mentioned in “Lotto Blistered Fingertips,” with their “labor-worn lips, soul-sunk eyes.”

Arousal aside, the first half delves more into religious commentary and returning to a time where land wasn’t so ruined. And though this did not make me want to get naked, it did inspire a wishful act equally as bold, like chunking a bible through a church window and then somersaulting in the open grassy field beside it.

Based on my dramatic reaction you’d think these poems were part of an “I’m a reformed Catholic” hate rant, but (thankfully!) they are not. They’re intelligent, funny, and if nothing else, thought-provoking—focused more on the perceptions of religious figures and stories rather than the actual stories themselves.

All of the poems, no matter the theme, shine in the sound department. Mashak shuffles back and forth beautifully from soft and hard consonants, often sprucing up commonplace language with a peculiar, memorable word, like “kamikaze” or “mastoid.”

Salty as a Lip is Mashak’s first collection. In a recent interview with Austin, TX publisher, Haggard and Halloo, Black Heart’s editor, Laura Roberts, asked what type of writing they go for. Publisher Travis Catsull answered: experimental, surreal, and sincere. With creative imagery such as “pinecone slippers” and “croccodile mummies” and smoking a bong in the Ark of a Covenant, Mashak certainly fits the bill.

Amanda Kimmerly graduated with a BA in Journalism and minor in Creative Writing from  Stephen F. Austin State University. She writes mostly fiction and poetry and is currently co-authoring two books: a YA novel exploring the peculiar habits and inhabitants of podunk East Texas and a Dvarsh glossary for the Hidden Lands of Nod fantasy series, by Robert Stikmanz. She reads fiction submissions for Fringe Literary Magazine and just recently extended her hand to Black Heart Magazine as a volunteer book reviewer and poetry reader. She promises she is not as drab in real life as her bio suggests.