With a career in poetry spanning some 40 years, Engels, who has long taught writing at St. Michael's College in Vermont, has evolved into something of a regionalist poet: a grouchy, ""cane-waving"" New England loner who's not going gentle-no way. In poem after poem about his decaying body and his fears of death, Engels also arrives at a variety of nature-born epiphanies, moments in his beleaguered life reminding him that the past isn't all that important-even if he could remember it. A few superb narratives (""Comet"" and ""Stink"") give voice to two kindred spirits-one an old man who can't recall much about witnessing a comet in 1910; the other a codger who confesses his disgust at his own father's last days of filth and rot. The indignities of old age and the punishments of time allow for a few remaining pleasures-tending a garden and; most of all, fishing, the sport Engels enjoys because it is what it is, nothing more. Engels's more confessional poems and numerous death-centered narratives suffer from a numbing sameness, but at his best he transforms the rustic virtues of clarity and plainness into high meditative art.