Larry O. Dean,
Identity Theft for Dummies
(Zenith Beast, 2003)

Larry O. Dean is a singer, songwriter, freelance writer and poet. In Identity Theft for Dummies, he presents his poetic take on the world as it happens -- 18 poems on a variety of subjects, each imbued with Dean's laser-like wordcraft.

In "Autopsy," he muses on the secrets revealed inside a corpse: "pancreas / thinned like walls / in a fleabag motel." Throughout "Prosaic," he defends and describes his "need of the ordinary to live ... when dazzling and delighting / may not be right." He claims he needs "the dying rat next door ... glimpses / of goodbyes ... of a brief rancid life," details the "leaky kitchen faucet; bad / connection on the phone; / burnt- / out bulb; / hairs on a bar of soap," and finishes with "you, with complaints of your day / at work -- half astonishment, half anger / that we put ourselves through these wringers / when we should know better - / me agreeing, / rubbing your knotted shoulders / and hoping mine will be next."

He considers "4th of July" -- "Car / alarms gasped in the dark / in their death throes, dying...," which is a wonderful image in the face of the constant irritation of their unanswered cries! He turns delightfully whimsical in the pseudo-solemn advisory poem "How to Defend Your Elf" -- who knows? Perhaps prompted by a typo? -- and then returns to the mundane with "R.I.P. (Refrigerate In Peace)" about the death of his fridge. "Bottles / of unopened beer / lined the counter top / like orphans," yet amidst this everyday minor disaster, he rightly ponders that "We take / for granted our modern / conveniences" and thinks "of the great- / grandmother I never knew, / eating smoked fish / in a Finnish village, / combing her hair after dark / by homemade candlelight."

Just when you think you have him sussed, Dean presents another facet, another opinion that you hadn't considered. His metaphors and similes are inventive and vivid, and whether he is imagining the background of the girl on the bus or describing the guy struggling in the wind on his bike, writing the obituary of the panda or imagining life on Mars, pedantically describing the immaculate commuter or stripping bare the psychology of cosmetics, he presents sharp, focused pictures of his subjects, vignettes flicking past like starlings, and you re-read the poem in order to enjoy the replay.

In the title poem, "Identity Theft for Dummies," he offers his life lived so far for free, stating he'd "put it up for grabs / on eBay if I seriously / thought there might be any / bidders." He is, he claims, "ready for a clean slate / a new car, and unblemished life. / It's never too late to start / or stop; everything / in-between is negotiable / with built-in obsolescence / included, FOC."

Dean's "poems, songs, successes and mistakes" indicate a life too interesting to sell or give away, when even the most boring routine produces in this man's mind a wry poetic insight, what you see is not necessarily what you get -- the poems are intelligent, witty and, like holograms, often present an intensely lifelike picture of two entirely different views.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 18 December 2004

[ visit Dean's website ]