“Rule of pet no more bets” begins this volume, sounding like a loony croupier; or: like a lunar croupier, dazzling in a suit of white space. “Geopolitical or molten core go to hell,” it continues, getting crankier:

I was born on a hijacked plane
Now that nobody can “go back”
except to collect the effects

People can’t afford to lose their heads

Hung Q. Tu’s Structures of Feeling is poetry for the departure-lounge-from-hell that is our current moment. His language is culled from the benthic life crawling across the news-screens clamped in our every periphery. With a quick eye and fine ear for the absurdity of our everyday ‘discourse,’ Tu gathers these ads, stats, factoids, and soundbites, slices them up, clumps them back together, and releases them back into the read environment to continue to writhe and, uncannily, to thrive. ‘Bananas or Brace Yourself’ delivers a rollicking, wide, transhistorical critique in small doses, such as:

get out of Dodge or let no one into Dodge
it can’t stop
and that’s the good news
from Dodge

This stanza sends up the perverse sheriff-speak of our post-9-11 foreign policy by exposing its disquietingly artificial source: movie versions of the Old West, not the period itself. In so arraying these phrases, Tu neatly renders the fatal flaw of Fortress America logic, i.e. that it leaves us with no allies and thus no option but to fight on: “it can’t stop.” But he also captures the fatal flow of defense-speak into corporate-speak, the folksy last two lines connoting the tagline of a truck ad.

The inextricability of corporate and militaristic language is the inexhaustible engine of Structures of Feeling. In the poem ‘Hell to Pay,’ “nothing stands alone in malls/ a fragile fortified.” We Americans are the fond, apparently helpless consumers of our own demise, not least of all because the corporate powers-that-be are constructing the language in which our very thoughts are caged. A visit to the Dodge website informs us that the word ‘dependability’ entered the English language from the pen of a Dodge copywriter, and Tu’s ‘Hell to Pay’ notes

that it remains a jungle

at Amazon

the hearts of palm is pulp

starring at the pool
brain pool.

The capacity for pattern recognition that allows both Tu and us readers to recognize the multiple resonances between the Amazon rainforest with its palms, its pulp, its pools, and the corporation that chews up these and other resources, the (figurative) atmosphere of which may be said to be a (figurative) “jungle,” is an eerie literacy, as it proves how deeply our own “brain pools” have been branded with corporate knowledge and lingo. Indeed, that starry final image evokes a hemorrhage, in which the brain begins to fatally mimic the flood of information in which it is submerged.

Gloomy as this reviewer is getting, there is nothing gloomy about Structures of Feeling