Mad Hatters' Review Issue 10, Fall 2008

by F. J. Bergmann
Parallel Press 2007

Reviewed by Cheryl Townsend


I felt like I had walked into the “Hotel California” with the first poem “Another Language” when shown:

Single majuscules executed
in hectic neon twitched above acanthus-carved
sconces whose scalloped protrusions
were disconcertingly draped
with spaghetti, slowly dripping puttanesca sauce
onto perilously slick parquet:

Did I just miss an incredible food fight of a palatably debauched orgy? Either way, it would have been too many carbs for my after holiday dieting…though I have been known to sneak. The scenes are macabre, the ambience…anticipatory.

In the following poem, “Perfection,” I was again wondering morbidity, though initially I envisioned a Tom Waits worthy onset with “She had forget-me-not-eyes,” but when Bergmann got to her “skin like cream/dribbling from her flesh/and flowing into a gooey/white puddle at her feet” I started to wonder – Is she live? Or is she acid? There is tongue-in-cheek humor found in “Sky Blue”: “It’s Blue Sky Week. There are weeks for all sorts of things, but blue/sky is important even if the sky isn’t actually blue during the week.”

In “An Introduction to Our Revised Corporate Policy” the numbered notations include:
“4. That looks like me.

Everyone has a double somewhere. Make me. Sometimes you get/seconds without even asking. It is time to meet your reflection.”

But my favorite line in these revisions is that found in #5: “Does this tragedy make me look fat?” Each line easily stands alone in its own statement. Quick & easy poems for the ages. Bumper-sticker them!

The poem “Fudge” just plain scared me (ever hear Alice Cooper’s song about “Steven”?) with its dance around and into childish insanity.

Then “Listing to One Side, But Still Seaworthy” gives a “to do” list for what appears to be a very feeble-minded/border crazy unfortunate. OR, again I make reference, for the sorry sap in the movie “Memento”…

Rescind party affiliation
Duct tape (green?)
Bake sodium 350°
Return library books!
Gas (do not spill or inhale)
Electric " " " " "

In “Uses of Metaphor”: “He thought of each marriage as a stanza/in the poem of his adult life” … “a divorce/as the double carriage return.” A witty poem I’m quite envious of.

The poem “To my Daughter on the other side of the world” saddened me, had me wondering: Does she have leukemia? Is she at war? Assuredly, the heartstrings were tugged here.

“Lost in Translation” takes us back into a war zone, an Armageddon and protest against those who have placed such lives in jeopardy, into today’s era of claustrophobic fear.

These poems resonate speculation, scream protest, teeter on the mental abyss and yet leave you smiling for the every chance to take them all in.

F. J. Bergmann
F. J. Bergmann Jeannie Bergmann is a web designer and artist. She maintains, a local poetry website, as well as the WFoP site, and others. Her personal site is She also offers a poetry submissions service, She has had poems in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Blue Fifth Review, Margie #1 & 2, the North American Review, Rosebud, Southern Poetry Review, Tattoo Highway, Wind, on as Easter Cathay, and her Flash translation Lace was shown at the 2002 Electronic Literature Symposium. In 2003 she received the Mary Roberts Rinehart National Poetry Award; in 2004 she won the Pauline Ellis Prose Poetry Prize with "Wall."

Related Links:
Mad Poetry
Book That Poet
Parallel Press, Bergmann

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last update: October 14, 2008