Crystal Stone

Knock Off Monarch
Knock-Off Monarch: Stone, Crystal: 9780936014258: Books

Crystal’s Stone’s Knock Off Monarch is a book full of bite and candor. It examines the persona’s journey through childhood to adulthood, and how one repeats the patterns of their past despite their efforts. The book is split into six sections, and before each section is an illustration of the stages of a butterfly. It begins with the egg and ends with the butterfly, the painted lady, the Knock Off Monarch. The whole work wrestles with the question of identity while expertly using poetic forms like concrete poems or the pantoum to bring home the images within the poems themselves. Stone examines the things that hide in plain sight and laments what could have been: in “Kitchen,” Stone writes: “Instead of water, vodka. / Instead of a spatula, a belt. (…) Instead of a mother, a six year old girl/learning to cook for a younger boy.” The sharp, concise images leave no room for imagination, just like the young persona has no room for “instead.”

Knock Off Monarch also provides a different perspective on familiar characters. Stone delves into questions of God, and the characters in the Bible, but also discusses people such as Marie Curie. She uses these known people and puts them in known, but wrong, environments to highlight the strange qualities that hide in every day living. In “Moses and Zipporah Attend a Roller Derby Game,” Moses’ miracles are coupled with the preoccupations that plagued any partnered person. The poem ends on: “How strange,/ Moses thought. To love someone and never/known how much they might want something else.” Knock Off Monarch is an ode to “frustrated/lightning.” It is energy, the examination of that energy, and the mourning bell of energy spent on unworthy things, thoughts, or people. After all, “what doesn’t live can look like it breathes.” Knock Off Monarch is a work that breathes through the reader, and leaves them asking for more.

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