An eclectic collection of poetry explores Los Angeles architecture, a Native American trickster, and a talented pig.
In smart, accessible free-verse poems, Frosch (Plum Gut, 1979, etc.) creates a dizzying and gleeful tour de force for readers. The clever and playful book begins with a poem inspired by a New York Times article about a skydiving pig, told from the animal’s point of view: “I was what happens for a while / Between a syringe of sperm and a porkchop.” The author continues this adapted perspective in poems told in the voices of a flounder, a bluefish, and a sea robin. A series of eight poems places a Native American mythological character, Trickster, in the Big Apple, where he delays a condo meeting, cheats on a standardized test, lobbies for and against a scoop-the-poop law, steals a car, and joins the police force, among other exploits. In “Los Angeles Architecture,” the narrator recounts all of his unlucky (and fantastical) real estate endeavors, one as extreme as a home cantilevered over a cliff: “For a front lawn / I had the Abyss. My guests had to do / a highwire act to get to the front door.” In “Three Notes From New York,” the poet recalls 9/11 and its brutal aftermath: “Out the window a whole slab of horizon is just gone.” The author concludes with “22 Views of Chestnut Drive,” in which the narrator captures a neighborhood through the eyes of 22 artists, including Monet, Degas, Picasso, and van Gogh. Frosch excels at original descriptions, such as that of Hubert the Plowman, who has “the loudest laugh in the pub, ham fists / Banging on the table.” The author’s sense of humor is sly and subtle, and his unexpected plot twists surprise and delight, such as an encounter with a “surging, pulsating, / screaming blob” of children at the Louvre that results in the narrator’s rediscovering the joys of gallivanting with youth through an art museum. Frosch makes poetry downright fun.
A carnival of poetic storytelling that will grab readers’ attention from the first page and never let go.