(guns + butter) invites us to read its shape as an idea firmly rooted in our contemporary experience of crisis: engage > delete. It invites us to read the voice in these poems by the same model. Our role as poem-spectator and civilian-spectator are inseparable. How do we measure the success of a poem in the shape of a gun? Or in the shape of a recipe? What is there to take away from any platform or prosody that is premised on the end-goal, objectivity, neutrality, the cathedral spaces of discourse? The two poles of this collection, guns + butter, are the consumables of these questions. Lethal + edible. They are evasive because of their everydayness. Ray reminds us that docility and absentmindedness are how we are asked to approach them, the newsfeed, drones, the tar sands. (The conveyors of political content) are not the conveyors of urgency that art can be.
Each poem in (guns & butter) comes into focus and quickly escapes it. The parentheses mushroom to an (((((((((((( inward rate, at the same time they and the recipes force us to engage some idealized result. (guns & butter) has us think about how our poetry becomes pressured by crisis, how we can pressure crisis and engender crisis with our poetry. A concrete poetry of a parenthetical narrative becomes an aesthetic imperative to recognize violence as its own organism, a beast we feed, a beast that feeds on us. Art is also a beast we feed, or choose not to feed. It’s when we overlook the conveyors of art within crisis, or the conveyors of crisis within art that we have truly given up. These are after all poems and we would die without them.