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Hitman-Baker-Casketmaker: Aftermath of an American’s Clash with ICE by Klecko

(Paris Morning Publications)


Is this poetry

I wondered reading Hit­man-Baker-Casketmaker

The first full-length collec­tion from celebrity baker

Klecko, born Danny McGleno

The so-called poems

Read like autobiography

Presented with line breaks, reminiscent of a baker

Used to making heavy loaves of whole wheat bread

Dabbing icing on a cake:


I’ll never forget the time my grandfather

Stopped by my apartment

How his eyes sparkled when he spotted

My Craftsman toolbox on the kitchen table

He opened it without permission

But just as the examination started

His enthusiasm waned

When he noticed the contents were

Fondant molds and pastry tips


To Klecko’s credit

He is never dull, and though the mainstream media

Has fixated on how St. Agnes, his baking company

And official bread provider for Super Bowl LII

Failed an ICE audit and closed

Just days before the big game

This takes up only a baker’s dozen of pages

And the rest of the collection ranges widely

Traveling from San Francisco to New York

With a stop at Buddy Holly’s crash site

Whiskey Willie, a boyfriend of Klecko’s mother’s

Who once brought actual hitman acquaintances

Into their kitchen, figures largely

As does poet Mike Finley and

A mostly absent father:


After a 15-year absence, it was brought to my attention

Father was working a mile from my apartment

In a factory, building caskets


A poem entitled “Mexicans in the Parking Lot”

Appears multiple times and you begin to think

It must be some crazy printer’s mistake

Until the ubiquitous poem

Shows up with only a title, the lines erased

And you realize Klecko is making a statement here

Though being partial to birds I must admit

My favorite poem in the whole collection

Has the poet helping his mother

Dismantle hummingbird feeders:


Then she kissed me and went inside

Leaving me to watch nuthatches and chickadees

Nuthatches eat upside down

And I would have liked to watch them longer

But I didn’t have my mittens and went inside


This is a memorable collection

These are Henry Miller poems

In a rough language that makes even Frank O’Hara

Seem delicate and lyrical

They are certainly not

The finely crafted personal rumi­nations

Turned out by MFA grads these days

Perhaps they are not poetry at all

But I would prefer to rather broaden poetry

To include Klecko and all baker poets

After all in the Middle Ages

Plays, romances, letters

Even bee-keeping treatises and technical manuals

On warfare were written in verse

Not to mention book reviews

And maybe it is time to bring poetry

Out of its little broom closet

Into the great castle it once inhabited


- Joel Van Valin