The poems in Matt Donovan's The Dug-Up Gun Museum are for anyone who has gathered students into a quiet corner as an administrator jiggled the handle of the door; anyone who has watched as the news unfolded the details of yet another shooting; anyone who has dropped their kids off at school, hoping they will be safe there; anyone, in fact, who lives in the United States in this era of gun violence.
Donovan attempts to capture the feelings of fear, despair and even self-reflective questioning. This vulnerability shines through in "Fake News Bus Stop Prayer," a poem of unrhymed couplets with long conversational lines. In it, a neighbor at the bus stop rants about "fake news" and the machine gun shoot he goes on each year, and the poem asks, "And yet, who am I to pretend to know nothing/ of the pleasure of ruin, especially after the Tri-County Fair,/ where I forked over a few extra bucks in order for my family to watch/ the school bus smash-up derby, where my sticky blue wristband/ proclaimed yes to wreckage, to wincing & mock groans, yes/ to a hymn of broken glass where the point was good riddance/ & to see our look-both-ways world shattered."
The collection is divided into five sections, three of which are long poems, each a different "Portrait of America as," such as the Winchester Mystery House or "a Philadelphia Derringer Abraham Lincoln Assassination Box Set Replica." The remaining two sections contain shorter poems, less stylized but all equally earnest and searching in their own way. --Sara Beth West, freelance reviewer and librarian