Director of Manhattan's 92nd Street Y's acclaimed poetry center, Kirchwey writes like the ultimate insider in the world of poetry that he is: A traveler in an antique world, he wanders the ancient sites, recording his insights in deft metres that are academic and as cold as the statuary he exults in. The confluences of worlds--pagan and Christian, Old and New, classical and modern--underlie many of these airless poems that try to discover the ""genius of place"" among the ruins of Rome, Syracuse, Numidia, Amalfi, and Ischia. A civilization that loves stone--indeed, in ""Skin Cards,"" quite literally--appeals to Kirchwey's own sense of aesthetic perfection; these poems are textbook in their formal accomplishments. A series of personal poems about his infant son's surgery (""Orthopedics""), his own barium enema (""Barium""), and the death of his parents all point to the ""betrayals"" of time. The breathtaking ""Santa Maria In Trastevere,"" addressed to his son, asserts Kirchwey's sense of beauty in a vain world. Poems to be read with an OED nearby.