In Rodrigo Toscano’s The Charm and The Dread, the unraveling of the American Imperium is rendered frontally, through strange adjacencies. Always an astute observer of tectonic shifts in political culture, Toscano plumbs the inter-locking crises that have kicked us into these 2020’s. From formal sonnets to high-speed screeds unspooling syntax, uncanny portraiture to earnest inquiry and appeal to specks of emergent new moralities, Toscano’s ninth collection is a guidestar for our time. The Charm and The Dread jostles political and aesthetic complacency, and invigorates us toward a viable baseline attitude for the new decade. A somatized, personified trajectory as synaesthetically rich as that of tarot or any other hallowed divinatory tool of the ages, The Charm and the Dread brings a naturalized, dreaming body into an awake state in the traumascope of virtualized pandemic humanscape, the place in which we can again breathe, and speak. In these poems we find that the pandemic is “an interiority in search of an externality.” Speaking and breathing these rhapsodic scripts of good-humored yet uncompromised, felt-and-seen engagement of our complete catastrophe, we move from “The crimson yellow of no past // The charcoal pink of no future” through “the squander of recourses // Of leadership” into real encounters with Justice, Revolution, and Flesh. Prescient and unafraid to look, Rodrigo Toscano asks, “What’s the use of any [insurrection] today //If tomorrow and many days to come // Aren’t shaped differently, aren’t lived differently”?
Contents The Charm and the Dread 1 Maskers 5 Miasma 6 Squander 7 Coding 8 Betimes 9 Insurrectionary 11 Flesh 12 The Revolution 13 The Peopling 15 Männerbünde 17 Beach Time 20 Homo Americanus 21 Brown Lives 24 Barricades 27 Iconoclasm 28 The Tango 29 The Zone 31 Jump Start Poems 34 Compulsory Conviction 36 Ally 37 Compeers 38 Blank Page 39 Orphan Poem 43 Pandemic 44 Dire Straights 45 Clarity 46 Nowhereville 47 Thing & Thang 48 Huddle 50 Zoom Reader 52 Quitters 53 Latinx Poet 55 Mundus 56 Eye of the Storm 57 Coconuts 58 The Mounds 59 Destination of Things 60 Write The City 61 1519 Aztec Arrivista 62 Clouds and Us 63 July 4th, 2020 65 Chillaxer 67 The Buzz 68 Mysterium 70 Ape or Ant 71 Litigators 72 Broke Folks Poem 77 Universal Basic Income 78 Feel-Serf 79 Englisc 80 Socialist War Plan 82 Converse 83 Working The Room 84