Crudely Mistaken For Life is an invasion. Your brain will be held hostage by the poems in this collection even after you read the last poem, look up at the ceiling or at the Celine Dion poster on the wall and mutter, “Fuck.” In this, his first poetry collection, Wolfgang Carstens grabs you by the balls or cunt hairs and tells you,”Listen, asshole. It’s much later than you think so get off your ass and start living your fucking life, already.” You can build a snowman and snowwoman. You can place a Wayne Gretsky rookie card in the spokes of your bicycle wheel and ride into the sun. Get on a bus and don’t tell anyone where you’re going, just go. Do something because there is a slab with your name on it, motherfucker, and once you’re on it there will be no more orgasms and pony rides. 

I know I’m not supposed to but I love Mr. Cool, Wolfgang’s deadbeat dad. How could I help but love him when in happy birthday, Mr. Cool there are lines like these:

one time, when his second wife died,
and her family blamed me because
i never accepted her as my stepmother,
my father put his oversized fist
through a plaster wall –
it broke clean through to the other side,

then, shaking his wrecking ball
of a fist at everyone in the room,
he growled, “who’s next?”


I love Wolfgang’s grandmother Thelma even more. In meditation on freedom he writes:

Thelma believed that telling the truth
was the highest virtue – that deception
was a horrible crime on a par with murder,
rape, or child molestation, because
without possession of the facts
you cannot make competent choices.

as she explained it to me, “every choice
is made from a position of knowledge
or from a position of ignorance.

you cannot freely choose to disarm
a bomb,” Thelma explained, “when you
don’t know which color wire to cut –
when you don’t understand why to cut
the red wire and not the green one.
only when you possess knowledge
of how to disarm a bomb can you freely
choose to disarm it, or to let
the motherfucker explode.”


My favorite poem in the collection is wristwatch because it made me laugh out loud and more than once. I love the first two stanzas most of all:

wouldn’t it be funny as hell
if we as adults returned
to our childhood

imagine your thirty-nine year old shape
strutting down Jasper Avenue
in your canary yellow


Outside my window I can hear the crickets, the birds and the train. It’s 6:23 a.m. in a Texas town you have never heard of. People who mattered and matter to Wolfgang Carstens now matter to me. My mind is stuck inside a Canadian cemetery I have never seen. There is nothing for this but some vodka from a crystal skull and maybe some Monkees on the stereo. The Monkees tell you that it’s cool, baby, death does not exist! You will live forever! Life is a cartoon and we are all poorly drawn. Fuck the Monkees. I want some Megadeth in my goddamn porridge.