It was on a flight to Las Vegas, hell on earth, that I opened up Richard Carr’s latest book of poems Lucifer. Like Vegas, Lucifer is unique, full of sinister and untrustworthy characters, but completely worth the visit.
Lucifer is a story told in a series 66, mostly short, poems. In the book are four main characters: Lucifer, a parasite (real or metaphorical or both) who clings “like a tick” to the narrator; a sometimes friend Mick the Bastard; and the girlfriend Juliet.
“This is my condition.” the narrator states in the opening poem, and it’s with point-blank language like that that Carr carries the reader through the narrator’s turbulent relationship with his Lucifer and the other people in the book. The narrator is a slacker, a pot-smoking bum who leaches off his girlfriend and takes people for granted. Lucifer is his constant companion, his comforter, his enabler, his co-conspirator, “Lucifer waits for me to wake and feed him. / Half dozing, I give him his due.” That sounds a little like the relationship between a mother and her infant, but no infant has ever had teeth like this.
The relationships in Lucifer frequently shift; alliances and trust are both fluid, yet Lucifer is a constant, though not always dependable companion. Like any addiction or human frailty, Lucifer is there with an answer or an excuse.
“Love rhymes with blood in the language of Hell” says the narrator. Everything that Lucifer touches is tainted, and Carr’s language leads the reader through that hell where “all the TV channels reach the same conclusion” that “Lucifer leads me slowly onward.”
This book is full of loaded lines like those cited above—language that shows the narrator’s internal struggle, his weakness, his failures: “I let everything but hunger slip away.”
Lucifer is an engaging read and one that should first be done in a single sitting (I finished it before the 5-hour flight landed). The momentum of the story requires it.
You can buy Richard Carr’s Lucifer here from Logan House Press.