Skip to Content

I'm Totally Killing Your Vibes

By Ahren Warner

To read Ahren Warner is to remember how farcical modern life can be. Our affections are fleeting, our egos large. Eyes don’t stay dry and nausea is an avocado away. Warner’s dexterous overlaying of tone paints our multi-channel reality. Two of the three long works comprising I’m Totally Killing Your Vibes began life as voiceovers for art films, yet the laconic exchanges live exuberantly on the page:

  Your tears are hot, i say. Thanks, she says. i like tears, i say. 
Thanks, she says, looking down at my

  erect cock. It’s not tears themselves, i say, it’s not that i have
fetish for salted water,

  a lachrymal kink. 

Any swagger is swiftly undercut by a winsome vulnerability. Warner puts off reading a prominent critic’s review of his latest book, worried they will have laid bare his shortcomings. A fraught relationship with a first girlfriend is recounted in somber detail in the book’s final poem, which is the most settled of the three:

I spend months crying in our old bed, fucking Tinder dates in our old bed, hurrying random strangers through rushed avocado-based breakfasts and out of the front door, so I can continue to cry in our old bed.

Scathing outbursts are as often aimed at himself as at others. With each utterance, the author maps the changing mores and landmines of a polarized society:

Does anyone really hate global capital? Except, perhaps, the Congolese kids (yes, some as young as six), digging cobalt down a mine somewhere close to Lake Malo?

I’m pretty sure those kids – the same ones you’re fucking over every time you swipe right, the same ones I’m killing every time I type ‘dtf ?’… I’m pretty sure those kids would hate global capital, if anyone had taught them the particular euphemism currently in vogue for their hashtag-infant-misery.

We eat ceviche and drink meloncello, fail to appreciate each other’s “#emotionallabour” but savor an “ASMRy voice”—all while comparing ourselves to Cardi B and Foucault. Warner’s iridescence of feeling stokes the life force of this book.

Reviewed By Sylee Gore
Pages 112
Date January 3, 2023
Price $17.95