As New York’s all-too-briefspring begins to transform into summer, aided and abetted by an abundance of humidity, I’ve opted for the only logical response, and made with the reading of zines. That seems to fit, right? This particular edition of the column will focus on two: one collection of poetry, and one issue that includes an host of prose and poetry centered around a particular topic.I’ve been reading Justin Maurer‘s prose for a very long time; his accounts of his time in numerous bands captures the spirit and mood of many a punk show. His new chapbook I Run With the Ghosts of Your Buffalo finds him veering into poetry, with the text arranged on the page in stark, stylized ways, leaving no real doubt of a typewriter’s involvement in the process. (Up to and including a handful of stray letters that have been X-ed out on the page.) Many of the poems adopt a pastoral approach, juxtaposing that with the bloody history of European colonization of the Americas. The first poem, “Pilgrims,” features a few references to “euro death,” and sets the tone for much of what follows. Some of these works are bold declarations; others, like “Spiders From Mars on the 110,” have a more free-associative tone. All in all, it’s a fine glimpse inside Maurer’s head.

The first issue of Smaller Town, from All Ages Press, focuses on numerous stories, unsettling in tone, that feature suburban settings. Editor Brenna Ehrlich has a story in here, “Mermaids,” which abounds with maritime metaphors and imagery and a mood of regret. And Sarah McCarry’s “Rehearsal” takes the reader back to the punk scene around Seattle in the mid-90s, around the time that, as the narrator writes, “Jeremy Enigk had gone off to find Jesus.” McCarry evokes a host of dynamics over the course of the story: the creative process, questions of gender, and a look at how bands can sometimes lock themselves away from others. It’s an impressive survey of ambiguities that never feels overly overwhelming.

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