Stevenson’s (Flutes and Tomatoes, 2015, etc.) latest collection offers 27 emotionally intense poems about his struggle with the end of a short but passionate relationship.
This memoir, made up primarily of poems, charts the author’s painful journey through the stages of grief—including a desperate search for answers, bargaining, blame, and anger. It details his relationship with the pseudonymous Mlle. X in the prologue essay, in which he tells of how he fatefully met her just after his first marriage ended. At the time, he was living in an apartment building that he owned in Buffalo, New York. Mlle. X was one of his tenants, and they quickly became lovers. A pregnancy and marriage followed, but then their intimacy deteriorated. In “Even the Dead Can Feel,” he tells of how the yearning and loneliness of being in a loveless marriage began eating away at him: “It’s while she’s asleep that my rage / Builds to a fiery crescendo that has no place to go / But to collapse hopelessly upon itself, an inert reminder / Of its own impotence.” After she leaves him, he shows how rage turned to despair in “Getting the Message,” a heart-rending poem about coming to grips with the end of a relationship: “One of these days I’m going to lose it, / Put a gun to my head and end the waking dream.” At the conclusion of the sequence of poems, the author relates how he found a kind of balance and rhythm in his life in “the light you left behind.” Overall, this collection lays bare the complexity of the tortured emotions of love lost. Along the way, it offers up revelations of how even the most painful endings can lead to new beginnings.
A brutally honest free-verse collection.