Noir doesn’t always need to balance on the sensational axis of endgame murder. It’s often found right under our noses in the every day — those suspended, quiet moments of deceptive mundanity where we need that pause to realize how fucked up business as usual really is. Noir doesn’t always need high-contrast shadows or even crime — sometimes all it takes is one look in someone else’s eyes, reflecting back our own expired coping mechanisms to know we are living, breathing examples of the inherent darkness in the human condition.
In BF Jones new poetry collection “The Only Sound Left” (Alien Buddha), she gives us 44 intimate glimpses of the modern woman’s balancing act — a girl that could straight snap if Jones didn’t employ the pressure release from these contemplations; these dissociated observations from a woman behind the armor of alcohol, which as we know, quickly becomes its own stressful full-time job.
In “Hangover 1” she nails the living ghost experience of the contemporary dipso who is quite literally trying to maintain a facade of professionalism. “She selects a backdrop conveying calm, serenity, control/The exact opposite of everything she feels: fear, panic, desperation.”
Yet Jones remains a time-tested professional — former administrator/contributor at Close to the Bone, she’s recently taken over Punk Noir as editor alongside Stephen J Golds, injecting new generations of blood into the ever-mounting site. “The Only Sounds Left” shows an intimate and fearless portrait of the lines she forges in between duties as an editor, mother, and day job hustler.
“On The Street Corners After The Office Party” there lies temptations beyond social lubricants where revelers linger, refusing to go home. “Do Not Resuscitate” is one of the many scenes at Tony’s bar, observing an old salt “Tarnished by age/Age is a shipwreck he murmurs/If I start forgetting/What do I live for?” “Disparition” brings a true-crime detour into the work, a young woman found expired in the forest, the only clues she holds is “A lighter/All out of flames/A rock/All out of bruises/And a picture/All out of faces.” She includes a mash-up with Steve Golds called “Repetitive” which is anything but — each poet offers their own unique line where part of the fascination here is who wrote what: “It comes when the dreams don’t, the midnight walls constricting/within the gut of Jonah’s whale. A mind like mosquito bites/ thoughts twisting like stagnant laundry or a wonky child’s wind-up toy.” Finally, Jones ends with her title piece “The Only Sounds Left” as the most haunting and thematically compressed — like Peggy Lee’s delinquent sister asking “Is That All There Is?” as she pours another drink with a heavy exhale, leaving us, the reader wanting another, and another…