Doing Cartwheels on Doomsday Afternoon
by John Yamrus
Reviewed by Dominic Scopa

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John Yamrus represents significantly more than just the “literary fallout from Charles Bukowski’s ass,” and his collection doing cartwheels on doomsday afternoon certainly validates his craft. Yamrus relies on his realist and candid approach in life to influence his poetry. He likes his poems with “a bit more grit and guts” and tends to witness “the dirt before the sky.”  Like many of his collections, the keen spirit of endurance and the eradication of any “crutches that color everything” persevere. This endurance can be witnessed in a myriad of metaphors that sprout in Yamrus’ poetry. Age often alludes to this necessity of endurance: “you end up / twisted and / bent / with a damn / fine woman / who fights back / the blood curdling screams / and just / endures” (Yamrus 20-28). The last word clings on as the sole word in the line, forcing the construction of the poem to reflect the turmoil of the content. The speaker in another poem ponders lessons learned from his dog: “they teach me / joy, / perseverance / and / acceptance” (Yamrus 36-40). The dogs also teach the speaker to “deal with it.” This highlights the theme of realism that pervades Yamrus’ poems; the old age aches, the pretentious failed poets, the monotony of daily writing, and several other ailments that conspire to slowly deprecate the lives of the speakers. However, this deprecation does seem to infuse the lives of the speakers with some sense of acceptance: “life’s an art… / by / the time / you / figure that out / you’re left with / x-rays, / a bad back / and a kindly tech / tying your gown / from behind” (Yamrus 33-34, 39-48). Yamrus’ candid style truly shines in this collection, and “it keeps coming back…now, that’s just damned admirable…don’t you think?”