An Excerpt from Mikko Harvey's Poetry Collection
From Unstable Neighbourhood Rabbit by Mikko Harvey
I was having blood drawn again, undergoing testing
for my mysterious ailment. The phlebotomist and I
inhabited the usual mix of small talk and silence —
then she giggled. What is it? I said. It’s just,
isn’t this strange? she said, holding up a vial of my blood.
To see what you are made of, in the hands of a stranger?
Totally, I said. I always thought that was weird,
but I never said anything because you’re so professional.
You act like it’s no big deal. No, yeah, she said,
gazing at the vial. It’s fucking wild. Your mom is in here,
your dad, your future kids. Your habits, your secrets.
I feel like your job is one of the realest jobs there is,
I said. All this for fourteen dollars an hour, she said.
I wasn’t sure what to say next. Money issues tend
to make me uncomfortable. So, she said, you want
to party? She peeled off her gloves, hit the lights,
uncapped the vial containing my blood, and took a sip.
The needle was still in my arm, but the hose
was disconnected so my blood dripped onto the floor.
She grabbed the hose, put it to my lip. Try some,
she said. No, no, I said. It was great to meet you, but —
Listen, she said. I know your type. I’ve tasted you.
Just do what I say, you dirty dog. Take this terrible dream
out of my head. Take this terrible dream, and suck on it.
Oneiric, fabulist, hilarious, surreal. No single term seems to sufficiently contain Mikko Harvey’s delightful, cheeky, absurdist, inimitable debut collection. A bomb and a raindrop make small talk as they fall through the air; a trip to the phlebotomist evolves into a nightmarish party; a boy finds himself turning into a piano key. Reading Unstable Neighbourhood Rabbit is like spending the day at the strangest amusement park you’ve ever seen. At first the rides appear familiar, then you realize they possess the power to not merely thrill and terrify, but also to destabilize your very notion of “amusement.” These poems veer sharply away from what’s normally expected from poetry, landing readers instead in that awkward, lonely, interior space where we may be most ourselves. Along with beauty and humour, there is menace here, the threat of disfigurement and death around every turn. But somehow, Harvey manages to make that menace, too, a place of wonder.