When You’re Deep in a Thing
When You’re Deep in a Thing reimagines the coming of age book and the masculine tropes of the bildungsroman, suggesting that adulthood never vanquishes the kids we were. When Cappo’s speaker returns home for holidays, “memories / of hangdog childhood seep in / like methane.” Despite temporal distance, he perpetually finds himself in the museum of paternal absence, the house his father left, where “ghosts whisper” and “frames / fade to shame.” From this possessed site, the collection bravely asks, how does one make sense of boyhood? Become a man without guidance? As the certainties of a religious upbringing vanish, the physical and spiritual boundaries of the world threaten to disintegrate. From depression, to political violence, to the certainty of death, Cappo’s exigent debut ventures to discover an intimate humanity against all odds. At these poems’ horizons, a tenacity remains, a determination to find sweetness, candor, and connection in this troubled world, where “the air’s still, // The ground a trembling silence,” yet “scathed we set out again.”
“Saturday Night Fever” from When You’re Deep in a Thing
My mother couldn’t afford to buy me a leather jacket,
but my sister’s cop boyfriend gave me a John Travolta haircut.
His training: When someone does something
to this body, I pay attention. He took me hunting—
shooting at deer illegally from a moving car. I cried
when they broke up. He taught me how to drink,
how to slam the door when you walk in a room
to show you’re badass.
I was a strobe—my dad gone—pulsing
in the dark. Teachers said I’d changed. It’s easy
to be cruel with a tough guy haircut
and gold rope chain. My sister’s disco
throbbing on the lunchroom jukebox,
I’d sit with the greasers, but minutes would pass
in silence. Slinked away or just waited for the bell.
I always thought it was about the music but