The best of ForchÃ‰'s poems in this extremely strong collection ring with conviction: her stay in El Salvador has electrified her work with an awareness of existing in ""the noise of the world""; and yet--rare for a politically involved American poet--the poems do not hide behind ""cause."" ""Return""--coming back to American life after El Salvador--is the volume's highlight, a long-stanza'd report on the futility of parallelism, the easiness of guilt, the luxury of powerlessness. (In its concision, additionally, it makes many recent novels with South American settings seem feebly self-indulgent.) ""Message"" is nearly as good: it ends with a vision of politics as ""a various/darkness among ideas that amounted/to nothing""--yet still a ""small light/ in the breadth of time where we began/among each other, where we lived/ in the hour farthest from God."" True, ForchÃ‰ does trip up on pious correspondences now and again (""The Memory of Elena,"" ""Selective Service""), with images that too obviously switch tracks; also, the many direct-address poems are a bit corny and over-querulous. But this, for the most part, is not everyday poetry of commitment: it has moved too far into passionate dissatisfaction with itself to be simple and righteous and shiny-faced. And the impure thrum of the best poems here boldly show off the quantum leap which ForchÃ‰ has made between her first book (Gathering the Tribes, 1976) and this one--which has won, deservedly, the Lament award for a best second book by art American poet.