Review: like every pillow flung off the bed

like every pillow flung off the bed
Zine, Stephanie Rutledge, 12 pgs, Broken Key Comics

Reading these poems feels like running laps in the author’s head. The external world has fallen away and we’re along for a destructive ride through the stages of breakup.

Heartbreak turns to anger. Anger leads to introspection and self-blame. Depression rears its head next, then morphs into emotional release. After catharsis, clarity and understanding arrive. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions in a neat little package that ties everything up but comes across as a little rushed, given the subject matter. These are the Coles Notes of a recovery.

The accompanying artwork — courtesy of Nicole Gruszecki — is full-page sketches of scantily clad, stitched-together (literally, with body parts sewn together) women, looking out of place in ordinary surroundings. They’re a fitting companion to the text and provide a welcome externalization of Stephanie Rutledge’s inner turmoil.

It’s easy to connect with these poems on an emotional level, but there’s no definable pace and it’s not always clear where one poem ends and the next begins. Rutledge appears to recognize this flaw: “everything has become the walls… only four squares to tumble on / only thinking… it is better to walk in circles.”