Dark Ladies, by Steve McCaffery

Poetry, 246 pages, $22, Published 2016

ISBN 978-0-9862640-4-7

Dark Ladies is an explosive meditation on death and laughter cast as both a Menippean masque and a user’s guide to the tragi-comic. Mixing erudition with illogicality and vaudeville vulgarity it pays homage to Shakespeare by both erasure and incorporation. Preserving the end rhymes of all 154 of his sonnets, in mirror-reverse order, and embedding stage directions from his comedic and tragic plays, it offers a grotesque repurposing of the bard’s great themes. Published to coincide with Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, written in large part during the epoch of George W. Bush and dedicated to the dead and dying on a continuing basis, it advances a truly pataphysical vision of a haunting question. If death is the real solution to life, is laughter the imaginary solution to death?

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