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SAY GOODNIGHT by Timothy Liu


by Timothy Liu

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-55659-085-7

Liu’s third collection of mostly imagistic verse discovers the sacred in earthly things, the poet having lost his faith long ago, as he reveals in “Apostasy,” which finds Christianity “a monolith/that grew too heavy.” The weight bears against the poet’s homosexuality, which forms the subject of Liu’s more narrative verse as he cruises the beaches of Cape Cod, stalks the video-porn booths of Manhattan’s Chelsea, and marches in pride in Washington. Frank sexual poems meant to shock—at least to shock the poet’s father—describe his lover’s coprophilia, their golden showers, “fisting” at bars, and an anus that speaks to the poet, “another rice queen.” Liu’s best poems rely on Zen-like aphorisms and remind us to “hoard kisses while they last,” remarking that “men dream best when they go to bed without food.” Images of death pervade Liu’s gnomic verses: so too do torn pages (from calendars, notebooks, a Bible, Blake), empty rooms, children at play, and ants. His Baedeker of travel poems, wonderfully re-creating both the art and decay of Europe, stand apart from his native excursions into anti-gay hypocrisies, mostly in “the heart of White America.” A mixed bag, to be sure.