A cerebral poetry collection of haiku and free verse, accompanied by a pair of essays.
Lenzi’s poetry is dense. The voice throughout the collection is professorial and frequently scientific. In “Lightspeed,” he tiptoes into special relativity, teasing readers with the theory’s complexities as well as a smidgen of scientific history: “Galileo opined…Isaac Newton refined…but Einstein defined…how time settles its groove.” “Rhomboid,” a melodramatic description of the four-sided geometric shape, sketches a halting, if not entirely convincing, metaphor likening the rhombus’s two sets of parallel sides to the two human halves of a couple in love. Elsewhere, in a haiku titled “Horizon,” five of the poem’s 17 syllables are used on the words “vectors” and “gradient.” These three poems all appear in the collection’s first five pages. Lenzi tends to overcomplicate his subjects, often using a flashy word when a simpler construction would do. For instance, “Lake Effects” begins in autumn with the “blithe susurration of leaves overhanging a lake” and, after referencing “realpolitik by the American right,” ends on a grating analysis of war in the summertime: “Summer should not hear the soldier in prayer / It’s too lovely and too warm to die.” But for patient readers perhaps willing to reread certain poems with a dictionary or almanac in hand, there’s usually a surprising insight or description on every page. “Lake Effects” cannily reminds readers that, as the seasons endlessly roll forward and repeat, time passes and significant events transpire. What most tempers the collection’s didactic bent and broad, encyclopedic subject matter—e.g., cosmology, time and wildlife—is the mixing of long, lyrical disquisitions (“New Hampshire Pastorals” is nearly 10 pages) with shorter, more intimate free verse, such as “5:00am,” in which first-person narration adds dashes of personality missing in many of the book’s lengthier poems. Similarly, the haikus are generally more accessible, occasionally even whimsical. Lenzi’s essays extend but don’t augment the concerns of his poetry.
For a crowd that likes both Whitman and Spinoza and doesn’t mind some inconsistency.