Wisconsin Death Trip
I say listen honey I've been
drunk a lot but I know the
difference between spirits &
spirits listen honey I know a lot
of ghosts they sure aren't dust
nor moths (though they do press
themselves against the window
screen hoping to get close to the
-from "Highway 32"
turned to Wisco punk rock. we namedropped. back & forth.
Avoided, Pistofficer, even
that real old school shit. Die Kreuzen, Sacred Order. but by the time I
mentioned Boris The Sprinkler. you had yr dick flag
flying. you said they don’t
count cuz they’re pop punk. pop punk is for girls & fags. well I’m a girl & I’m
a faggot, I should have. didn’t say.
-from "our faithful, reckless hearts"
Praise for Wisconsin Death Trip
The poems in Wisconsin Death Trip take many shapes -- evocative, provocative, specific, blunt, wistful. To unify such a disparate set of feelings and forms into a cohesive, gorgeous, aching whole is Jessie Lynn McMains' masterstroke.
—Michael T. Fournier (author of Swing State and Double Nickels On The Dime)
Wisconsin Death Trip sounds like America but not the America you hate. Not the fascist brute, the worldeater, the bigot machine. This is a gathered museum collection of cloistered ghosts, back fields, lost loves, basements, beer in cans, late-night commuter trains, fire, whiskey, punk records, avenging monsters, lost souls, but, wait, here's a newsflash, the museum burned down last night and none of these wild phantoms are locked up. They stalk the streets. They shotgun beers and then use the cans as pipes, naturally. They fuck in the hobo jungle. They look back fondly on youth, but their youth never died, no, never waned, but kept on smoking, drinking, loving in some deep sooty lakeshore recess where there is no bullshit, no fake sentiment, and most importantly no lies, no matter how hard the brick-baked fucking truth. These teenage stabs are Springsteen if Bruce were dark as the devil's heart, if he were dealing with addiction, fighting a curse, grappling with forces more sinister than a snake as long as a river. Jessie Lynn McMains' newest is beautiful, strong as black coffee, terrifying as your worst fucking nightmare, and absolutely perfect. This book is a dark gem in a field of gravel, dog shit, and old walnut shells. It's got my vote.
—Adam Gnade, author of This is the End of Something But It's Not the End of You
Having never been to Wisconsin, I have only Jessie Lynn’s world-weary voice to guide me, and what a guide she makes. The Wisconsin she relates with brutal intensity and motor-mouthed lyricism is one haunted by the ghosts of women struck and wishes burnt down to ash, a state of have-nots in a state of not having. Childhood is not a period of time but a transient state, one regarded only in passing before cans of beer and dreams of escape turn sour in the gut, thus creating the apathetic and nihilistic adults who drink and screw their way into the beginning of a new cycle. It’s tragic, it’s triumphant, it settles deep in your stomach and makes you want a jug of corn whiskey yourself.
—Kyle Tam, Writer & Dreamer
Jessie Lynn McMains’s, Wisconsin Death Trip reads like a dark travelogue replete with long-suffering women, “Fearsome critters”, death, and ghosts: ghosts of a childhood, of past relationships, of accursed towns, and their inhabitants. McMains’s poems, skillfully varied, act as landmarks in the form of a contrapuntal, elegies, ballads, folktales and other forms that will keep your attention and get under your skin, but you’ll ride on.
What Dave Etter did for “Alliance, Illinois,” I believe Jessie Lynn McMains has and will do for Wisconsin.
—Tiffany Sciacca, Poet and Staff Writer, Luna Luna Magazine