Traps Front Cover

paper • 60 pages • 15.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-935536-29-1

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Read an Interview with Louise Mathias for Superstition Review

The Traps

Louise Mathias

In The Traps, Louise Mathias’s second collection of poetry, the reader is pulled through “border towns of citrus and blood” and forests that “grow sparse as a beggar’s dress,” while experiencing the voice of a poet that is unrestrained by a straight-forward narrative thread; rather, Mathias grounds The Traps in a rich mix of imagery. Dense in form, these compact poems exist in an unbridled imaginative realm. Within this realm, the poems dance between beauty and brutality, terror and temptation: “There’s the theory / of the girl; the one that // was holding wisteria. // Which, when you get right / down to it, strangles trees.”

The poems’ stunning, often melancholy, lyricism—“thumbs drenched in paraffin wax,” “sand-soft husks of a walnut”—creates a sense of loss and longing, and places us in an eerie world marked by a persistently honest voice. This voice sporadically surfaces to confess, “He posed me like a dead girl and I liked it,” and to questionYou’re dying, don’t you know?” Often focused on imagery of constraint, as the title suggests, “in the narrowest spaces,” and “tied to the rafters,” these poems deftly describe life’s traps—what it means when they hold us tightly and what it means when they let us escape.

“Admonishment,” from The Traps:

To be impossible, but full

of endless mouth. Same goes
for hissing starlight in the daytime. 

You hold

the slippery kitten 'til it says
let me eat

somebody else's music now.

About the Author

  • “Cruelty is the secret to these blinding, delicate poems, a secret preserved by melodrama of the subtlest kind, untold, except by the operations of language turning away from itself: cutting, circling, fainting, breaking, lulling, binding. Scenes of indirection captivate, posing the enigma of cruelty in our own age: spoilage, compulsion, a teenage relic, a mystery play restaged in the post-urban deserts of Los Angeles. Mathias sets a snare in these poems from which the reader, once caught, struggles in vain to release herself.” —Daniel Tiffany
  • “The poems of Louise Mathias's The Traps are grounded in the brief, frozen moments that precede being unsettled, startled, unhinged—but they're not so preoccupied as to forget that speakers need listeners, poems company. Their hard stares bring with them outstretched arms.” —Graham Foust