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McNaughton's nods to the late "Imaginary Man of Las Cruces," poet Nicanor Parra, in the poems "¿ENTONCES QUÉ?" and "(COLIN CHRISTOPHER" (open parentheses per original) should not surprise anyone. Given the company his pen has kept over the decades, it would be too much of a stretch to say he and Parra share the same antipoetic approach to their craft. There nevertheless are similarities which reveal a kinship between their aesthetic instincts. The humor employed by both poets at times oscillates between comic hilarity and nightmare darkness. It can assume the form of thinly-disguised self-deprecation or more overtly-poised social and political satire.
If Parra's is a poetry of anguished laughter and mournful tears as some have suggested, then it may be McNaughton's is an equally intense but more restrained verse of amused hopeful smiles and astonished frowns. Both employ a minimum of embellishments to achieve maximum provocation. Both balance ironic incongruities with subtle personal resolve in a manner similar to the way jazz musicians utilize highly-charged counter-rhythms to produce captivating performances. Both, as Parra put it, incorporate "the hideousness and the beauty of the world" (Marie-Lise Gazarian Gautier, Interviews with Latin American Writers, 1989). Therefore, naked pain and uncertain joy play crucial roles in rendering disturbing truths aimed at disrupting, or reclaiming, different kinds of power.
The narrator of "CHILDHOOD + YOUTH" laments, via "figures of speech," wars of different kinds which have never ended, and, numerous bridges burned while waging them. He finds his understanding of these interior and exterior traumas challenged by doubt, but then reaffirmed by an authoritative witness who knows what it means to survive unnerving cycles of destruction and rebirth. Taking a trip "to David Highsmith's furniture store," he buys a copy of Hector France's Musk, Hashish and Blood:
"...Then I went to my place
Such healing, empowering, and time-bending solidarity can only come with dedicated practices of remembrance and recognition, among the hallmarks of McNaughton's extensive oeuvre. As the late writer Benjamin Hollander put it in "The Pants of Time," his definitive review of TINY WINDOWS, "McNaughton’s work achieves a testament of personal observation embedded in a trans-historical tendance of the imagination." Moreover: "He discovers history for himself anew..." (Boston Review, June 5, 2015).
He also increases its capacity for simultaneously preserving autobiographical identity and expanding notions of community to accommodate kindred spirits occupying physical and non-physical forms. Thus the poem "AS EFFECT AN ECHO" is less an elegy in which McNaughton bids farewell to Hollander than it is the written continuation of a relationship:
"The back door hammer clubbed my friend, the Jew,
The stars in the heart comprise the sweet substance of enduring friendships, or alliances, and even less-binding associations, which take on a kind of sacredness for the way they inform and sustain each other’s' personalities. They reject the insanity proposed by stars as symbols of genocide sewn onto the clothes of Hollander's ancestors in Nazi concentration camps as they do all restrictions placed on basic human freedoms and civility.