Fur Not Light, Jeff Alessandrelli’s latest volume of poetry, is a postmodern data dump—a purge of cultural reference points (see if you can spot the nods to the Misfits, Wittgenstein, Allen Ginsburg, and the Notorious B.I.G.), phrases stuck in a loop, names of friends and lovers, and strange yet relatable desires, like wanting to know how to fold a burrito without losing its contents. It’s also a deeply funny book, with details (“His fly was artfully undone, the knuckles on his clenched fists the size of performance-enhanced peanuts”) and stretches that breeze by with set up/punchline directness.
In between those lighter moments—and the emojis and the remembrances of eating a sundae in the bath while live-tweeting an old Oscar telecast—are passages that are unshakably beautiful. Alessandrelli wrestles with a lot in these pages: sexuality, addiction, mortality, and our culture of solipsism. He writes: “(Tonight, sweetheart, go/Count the heavenly stars/In the heavenly sky/And don’t come back/Until you’ve reached infinity.)” Those sections on their own would weigh far too heavy on Fur Not Light, but setting them, as they are, next to his more barmy sentiments results in a perfectly balanced collection.