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Invisible to Predators

by R.M. Vaughan

A candid celebration of homosexual love is the predominant theme of Toronto-based poet R.M. Vaughan’s latest collection.

Vaughan delves into all aspects of romantic and physical love, from awkward courtship rituals to carnal pleasures. There is a vulnerability on display here: “hold me … hold me in your arms and underestimate me.”

Vaughan’s best poems evince strong powers of observation and tackle difficult subjects. In “Why I will not wear a red ribbon at your grave,” the narrator demonstrates that deep pain is sometimes better left unverbalized. In this poignant poem about love shattered by death, he looks beyond grief and reveals the fragile nature of sanity at a funeral: “Only reminds me that hysteria while bearing pall, is like human rights in movie houses: it is every citizen’s privilege to shut up.”

Vaughan excels at making the transitions from the deeply moving to the hilarious and to the dark. Although “14 reasons not to eat potato chips on Church Street,” resonates with the familiarity of Letterman’s top 10 list, it also evokes caustic imagery. “Drop one chip, just one, and you’re increasing the typhus-carrying population by about 2 billion.”

A minor reservation is the inclusion of poems found in To Monsieur Desmoulins, previously published as a chapbook. This work is complicated and inaccessible – it feels misplaced in Invisible to Predators, the abstract metaphors keeping the action and the reader at a distance.