LOVE & DEATH & TEETH IN THE BLOOD. Todd Moore. Pitchfork Poetry Press, 2007. PO Box 146399, Chicago, IL 60614.

For the past several months I have been immersed in a manuscript of Todd Moore’s revolutionary novel, Dreaming of Billy the Kid,” a lyrical, sprawling mural that captures the heart of Outlaw America. His own “Guernica” in a way. Haunted and hypnotized by it, and its wave of power, I receive Todd Moore’s new chapbook, love & death & teeth in the blood.” What a beautiful contrast! Just so that we know that Todd Moore’s classic style is still intense with the life force as he deals with death and teeth in the blood! With a blood-red cover of a gun and a rose! Holding this book is like holding an outlaw artifact:

sleeping w/rats

at the clifton
hotel the
hole in the
wall above
the cot where
i slept had
a little
board nailed
over it
but that
wasn’t enough
to keep them
from prowling
past me
in the dark
they were
nothing more
than a scraping
of claws or
a quick
dark blur
other times
they sat above
me poised
in a nest of
dust & rotting
wood & i
listened to
those rat teeth
while they

Todd Moore is one of the world’s greatest storytellers. And the variety and multiple subjects of his stories are full of old myths, new myths, and a whole new angle of looking at things:


at the end
of the
wild bunch
ernest borg
nine is
getting shot
for the
last time
& he’s
falling side
ways to
ward will
iam holden
cracked all
the way thru
is just
abt where
i can taste
the shit on
the vultures’
wings &
the dirt in
the blood

Todd Moore’s poems work like little movies, little pockets of celluloid, little windows into another side of America, as Moore calls it in a recent essay, “the dark heart of America.” Here you find Billy the Kid, Sam Peckinpah, John Dillinger, and yes, the Clifton Cafe:

the best place

to write in the
clifton cafe
was the last
booth on the
railroad track
side the
table top
was scratched
yellow chrome
the chair
vinyl was
cracked in
3 places the
floor was
from years
of splashed
grease but
that didn’t
matter as long
as the poems
kept coming
& just as
soon as i got
one going
linda the
one eyed
waitress wd
cruise by
w/the coffee
& say you
got any dreams

This volume works on many levels. It is classic Todd Moore at his best. Beautifully edited, it has the feel of a mini-novel or a series of short stories. It is something you can pull out of your coat pocket, like a gun or an outlaw artifact. Tony Moffeit