All the Places I Wish I Died
Author: Crystal Stone
Publisher: Clash Books (2021)
Between the Midwest & the delta. On the bank of the shore & the ice of the lake. Between love & nostalgia. Beside the toad & the squirrel. Between loss. Next to a stranger. In the scent of grapefruit vodka seltzer. Between the sunrise & high noon. In the shape of the bed in the shape of my former body. By the edge. All the places I wish I died.
“In her stunning collection, All the Places I Wish I Died, Crystal Stone admits, “I write / poems about something I can’t touch” before making the intangible—love, desire, loss—tangible. This book invites us to explore the depths of its speaker’s past experiences—each poem becomes an exercise in l’esprit de l’escalier—only here, revisiting the past alters the present. And through this altering, Stone reveals a new kind of lonely--one where you lose yourself through your re/encounters with others—“After so much time touching other things, / my hands stopped tasting like me.” Read All the Places I Wish I Died and pay close attention to the poems that leave their own taste in your mouth.”
“Crystal Stone’s All the Places I Wish I Died is truly teeming with life. It lives in a world of odes and autocorrect, beer and Sauvignon Blanc. These poems love and lose with a terrifying beauty, where “loneliness is not a rainbow, but a wandering strand.” In this modern woman’s lamentation, Stone is unafraid to admit the danger of love, “what it feels like to care for anything without losing the night.” All the Places I Wish Died is a book “destined to hurt” where the heart needs it most.”
“Crystal Stone’s wickedly sharp imagination and masterful control of imagery left me shouting “wow” into an empty room over and over again. The poems in All the Places I Wish I Died offer warmth and comfort amidst terrible lonely, desire that outlives its beloved, and these poems ferry us through a hall filled with mirrors that each reflect the intimacy of human connection in a new way. Stone writes “Every disorder / is a form of coping—the tragedy / of being born into the poems we are”. Stone opens the door to her world with these poems, and trusts us to step in willingly, knowing we won’t want to turn back.”
“Crystal Stone’s All the Places I Wish I’d Died is the friend on the line when we’ve called “the suicide hotline” and the volunteer asks if “there’s a friend we could call” instead. These poems walk us around the house in a bathrobe carrying all the poems we’ve ever loved, all the voices that have saved us, and then searches the fridge with us anyway for something to eat, only to find “Goldilocks milk with lukewarm curdles.” Unabashed, these poems admit, “I eat tomato soup with moldy basil / for breakfast because don’t we all want / more green?” These poems understand; they take our hand and assure us, “Grief is a supervised visit / to the butterfly wing.” Wry and ironic, yet tender and self-aware in a way that gets at communal awareness, at holding each other in the lines, Stone confides: “sometimes it’s comforting / to know we’re almost all suffering the same way.” I love this book. I’ll be carrying its keen observations and nuanced affirmations with me like worry stones.”