Review by Dan Denton: Disposable Darlings by Todd Cirillo

A look at Todd Cirillo’s Disposable Darlings

I have never met Todd Cirillo, and I’ve only read a few of his poems in online zines over the years. He has however been mentioned a few times in conversations with poets that I dig, so I was curious to take a look at his forthcoming collection of poems Disposable Darlings from Roadside Press. I read through it four times in seven days, and the book bears the mark of a good one: it gets better each time you read it.

The book is peppered with many short, punchy poems that snuggle in between the longer ones that read like triumphant anthems, odes and psalms to love, lost love, poetry, friends, lovers, poetic comrades, juke boxes, and dive bars. One of the first things I noticed and appreciated was Cirillo’s knack for humor and self deprecation. He decries the too polished and the too serious poets. He embraces the flawed and the laid back. He eschews signs and omens tossing his luck to the fates of fuckedupness. He sits comfortably with Willie and Waylon, elevates a one of a kind friend to legend status, canonizes the ordinary regulars of no name watering holes, finds adventure on the way to weekday coffee shops, and not only names his skeletons, but drags them out of every closet dancing with them down the streets of New Orleans. He celebrates each drink like it was his first, and his poem “Saints of the Neons” is by far one of the best I’ve ever read about regular barflies. “Here, we are all equal -/equally lost/equally broke/equally off/and we look almost innocent/under the neons.”

His poem “Dear Sweetheart” reads like a modern letter to a young poet from an unlikely Rilke, as Cirillo writes “…and have the sense/to fall in love/again and again/with that moment…”

In the poem “What the Hell Am I Doing Here” he describes a life lived “…like repeatedly/going on first dates/that no one shows up to.” A line so well written in it’s awkwardness that I wish I’d written it. There are other lines that make your heart skip a beat throughout the book like the entire poem “Moving In.” Man, it’ll be a favorite of mine for a long time coming.

And Disposable Darlings will be a book of poems that I’ll read a dozen times more. This is what poetry is to me, and should be to you. Playful. Observing. Saving judgement for those on pedestals and never the ones in the gutter. Poetry that finds company in the alone times and comfort in the ordinary ones.

My friends that told me about Todd Cirillo were right. He’s a poet worth reading, and now I find myself in the middle of one of the most exciting times for an avid poetry lover, that of discovering a writer that I like reading, knowing he has other books out there that I can’t wait to get my hands on. The only thing better than that is a bonafide great first date.

That’s what this book is: the next best thing to a great first date.

—Dan Denton, Author of $100-A-Week Motel and The Dead and the Desperate


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