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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

COVID GARDENS by Stark Hunter, reviewed by Hex'm J'ai

Welcome to… Covid Gardens!  Here, you can sleepwalk with Santo and Johnny!  You can grab a cheeseburger with Steve McQueen, hang with the Stones or The Who, enjoy Rice-A-Roni with Eddie and the Showmen meet the ubiquitous Jackie Robinson or have a healthy helping of Veronica Lake’s meatloaf!  You too can star in the newest Covid-19 inspired TV program produced by Allen Funt!!!

But there is one rule.  To fully engage these activities, to fully experience these events, upon entering the Gardens one must follow the Poet’s Instructions. It is also highly recommended that you are multi-lingual or have a translator readily available as these instructions come in various languages, scripts, and dialect.

Covid Gardens: The Anti-Poems of Stark Hunter, is a recent collection published by Mind Tavern Books. Anti-Poems are artistic endeavors that break away from traditional conventions expected from poetry. These are the eloquently crafted observations and interpretations of the NOW in all its absurdity.  In a time of pandemic quarantine, uncertainty, and social unrest many indulged in the outlets available to them to sustain the illusion of familiarity and “normalcy” (whatever that is) through the outlets of music, film, and television.  This created a cultural paradox that many may not have been aware of while it was occurring, but that Mr. Hunter clearly documents and exemplifies in his work.  The stark and threatening reality anesthetized by the culturally topical salve of binge-watching images and listening to music of the world that was, or more accurately, the mythical world we wish existed once upon time.  In Anti-Poem 8, “Veronica Lake’s Meat Loaf” we grab some comfort food with Steve McQueen to the backdrop of:

“Time for the marching of everything designed, to slaughter, annihilate and procreate; The full United States Army.”  

Yet, before engaging this, we must heed the poet’s instruction to only read this if we have both shots of one of the Covid-19 vaccines.

This collection is at once a love letter to the western cultural pantheon as well as the instrument of its undoing, the Anti-Poem exclamation that the emperor has no clothes!

And so, to Mr. Stark Hunter, I say bravo sir…. bravo!

Covid Gardens, The AntiPoems of Stark Hunter is currently available in Kindle format at Amazon.

Anti-Poem 44  “Mona Lisa”

“No Lisa. I am not afraid. 

Where on my sleeve do I shine yellow? 

You are the choicest of life’s pastries. 

The universe has a hard-on for you, 

As I do now here at the end of the world. 

But as you sit there as my eternal lover, 

Your stringent expectations surpassing, 

My abilities to even unfold my capacities, 

I wonder if this is even appropriate now

As millions drown in the hateful gurgling. 

Maybe we can sit here instead and pray. 

Maybe we should close our eyes and listen. 

The survivors now are creating their mad gods, 

With mindless verve and pleasing contours; 

These robot monster hybrids singing arias, 

Making false speeches to the groveling captives. 

Mona Lisa! Mona Lisa! Go home to your mother. 

She fell in the bathtub butt-first and is stuck. 

We sent for the pill salesman to get her out but 

Well, there you have it. 

No, Lisa. I am not afraid. 

I am looking into the green cemetery and now I can see God. 

He is digging up the dead with a bloody pickaxe.”

Born in Whittier, California in 1952, Stark Hunter was a high school English teacher for 34 years before retiring from the classroom in 2017. He has written and published 11 books, which are available on and Barnes &

Mr. Hunter’s poetry works can be perused at and Mr. Hunter is married with two daughters, a granddaughter, and resides in Chino Hills, California.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing review by Hex 'm Jai! And I've been a fan of Stark's since the First piece of poetry that I had come across that he had written! His work about growing up in California I will say is some of the strongest poetry out there! Bless you both... 93