Marge Piercy writes too often in the first person singular, but her ""I""-eye is sometimes sharp. Thus: ""I have tried to forge my life whole,/ round, integral as the earth spinning"" tempts the response--Haven't we all, Sister?--but the poem continues: ""I have tried to bet my values,/ poker played with a tarot deck,"" which does have a certain wry concreteness to it. Her femaleness is sometimes saved by a sense of humor, the ability to get outside her own pain and consider it. This is well demonstrated in a poem called ""The root canal."" An icing of skin, a cave for tourists, a Russian basso profundo, an Oriental potentate gathering ministers, wives, his cabinet, his hunting cheetah, his favorite horse--all to be burned on his funeral pyre, concludes: ""I am nothing. . . but a grandiose talking headstone for my tooth."" And there are funny poems about the poet on circuit (Ms. Percy!), and the poet doing academic terms as poet-in-residence. Also she tells us how few her passions are, or should be: writing, gardening vegetables or roses, bird-searching, stirring soup, tasting wine on the tongue--and how often her lines of concentration are upset by lovers male and female. Her wit may save her in the end. Meantime, feminists and poets will like this book.