A thrilling and substantial collection of verse.
While this may be the first full-length volume from the West Virginia resident and instructor at Marshall University, one hopes it won’t be his last. Having published in literary venues both major (the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly) and minor, this native Nebraskan and former editor of The Little Review assembles here, in alphabetical order, the sweet fruits of more than 30 years of his poetic labors. These are poems over which readers are invited to linger: at once suggestive and direct, thoughtful yet rife with vivid imagery and sometimes leaping from the page with magnificent flashes. Often exploring death through the shifting objects of the tangible world–clouds, shadows, dust, language–these finely hewn, tender poems wrestle with the expressions of loss, memory and simple reckoning with time. One of the most touching pieces takes a light attitude toward death that’s as wonderfully defiant as the work of John Donne: â€œTHE SHADOW BENEATH MY CORPSE IS ALWAYS / In training He loves pretending he is / A layer of skin Peeled from Death’s moon-burnt / Shoulders Tonight he is resting under / Me As I write these words / As I lie here on this bank / I tell him Beware I am / Breeding a Herd of Fireflies I am / Weaving a net to skim the starlight / Off the surface of any river.” In "ANOTHER LANGUAGE,” a beautiful poem addressing loss, the mid-line caesuras poignantly underscore the painful divide and desire to reconnect between living and deceased: â€œWe love the dead We love / Them too much / We want to pull / Them out of the bruised photo / & whisper to them in Slow English / The car was okay The / Way I fixed it The flowers / Were perfect That letter I / Have it here Where is a stamp?”
Arrestingly sublime poetry: a must for every library.