Hello Hello Hello by Mark Jackley (review by Athena Dixon)

Hello Hello Hello by Mark Jackley is amazingly compact, but it is also amazingly vast and inviting. In the collection, Jackley shows his mastery of not only language, but also short form. The slim volume, aside from it’s aesthetically pleasing physical form, is a great balance of sex, violence, love, and all stops in between. There are few poems that remove readers from Jackley’s crafted world and even then the missteps aren’t faulty enough to distract readers for long.

What highlights the poems in Hello Hello Hello is the underlying sensitivity and tension that threads through each of them. In the opening poem, ”In Warm Waters”, the
closing lines “the knife,/I swear, leans too.” gives both the hint of danger and of longing.

The same duality appears in “Grace” with its “you discreetly daub your rose-petal lips/with a linen napkin/in your slender fingers/” and “the heavens meets the knife/and splits into a dozen/grins and spills its seeds/like black stars”. These poems show Jackley’s ability to move this longing, this tension, to not only the human speaker, but also to the objects that come in contact with the focus of desire.

In addition to his innate ability to create the detailed spaces these poems take place in, Jackley makes the most of the space on the page as well. The page is beautifully used in “Separated”.

This motel room,
spare,

cool as a
shoebox,

Perfectly
designed

for things that
walk away.

The silences in the piece speak just as loudly as the fifteen words Jackley has chosen. In those spaces, readers can pick up on the rush of recycled air, the muffled steps of the room’s occupants, or the crushing end once those occupants leave the room. These hidden details are the strength of the collection

While the book as a whole is strong, Hello Hello Hello shines most brightly when the poet is quiet and the spacing on the page is sparse. Yes, there are lush details and cultural touchstones throughout the longer poems, but those poems are the background music for the poems which show Jackley’s mastery of the compact.