Pink Noise

Midway through Pink Noise, Kevin Holden’s second full-length collection, there appears what one might take as a statement of method: What if it were all abstraction but I had put a page within the cover not a frontispiece but in its place what if I had put as the second or third page before the […]

Debt Ritual: Gracious

Photo by Trinity Nyguyen on Unsplash how “gracious” means “large” at least with respect to houses and maybe also old or beautiful the first time I was in a house one might say this of it was a suburb of Boston in high school for the day with my friend while her mother taught Saturday […]

Ground Rules

Photo by Single.Earth on Unsplash It’s June and I turn and turn my wet leg in sleep, in hopes of making a poultice. There is so much to learn here, in this place where fire does the kind of good violence we need it to. Already I have taken to calling this valley floor peat, […]

Before the Small Machines

Photo by Maël Balland on Unsplash Before there were such small machines, there were augurs plying their trade in every paper. Dear Scorpio, they’d write, the stars are aligned for you this week, but be suspicious of promises of sudden wealth. I spent my dimes and quarters on candy, and was susceptible to flattery. I […]

Raw Anyone

Write the word “Dear” and what comes next? An epistle suggests a located life, a name, a “you” at the receiving end of it. Written during the pandemic years that over-located so many of us in our homes, Alex Mattraw’s Raw Anyone (The Cultural Society, 2022) unthreads the decidedness of location in a captivating series […]

The Plague Doctor

You might be in the mood for a crystal-clear lyric, perhaps, or your lethargy demands something a little more stirring; you may be in need of the discordant, the unforeseen, to trigger some memory, some vague sentiment or reaction; or it might be that a flip chart of arresting imagery might just do the trick. […]

Rocks & More Rocks

About fifteen years ago, I wrote a review for Stephen Ratcliffe’s book of poetry REAL, writing that Ratcliffe’s work will be “demanding our attention for years to come.” Here I am, years later, talking about Ratcliffe’s newest books, released by Cuneiform Press in 2020. In the first review, I called Ratcliffe a “muse of stone” […]

What Small Sound

“I’m here to bear witness to this deafness / that expands imperceptibly,” writes Francesca Bell in her latest collection’s titular poem—and yet What Small Sound is a marvelous testament to just how much the poet does perceive about herself, about the people around her, and about the horrors and blessings of this world. Many of […]


April, it’s been written, is the cruelest month. By now, generations of undergraduates have been dutifully instructed as to Eliot’s parodic intentions in the opening line of The Waste Land, with its allusion to the beginning of the “General Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales: Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote The droghte of March […]