Carl Dennis
(Penguin Books)
There are shadows in town at dusk, "Notice how tall / They've grown." On New Year's Eve the celebrants must realize that their baby year "Is doomed to grow old and die in a year." We might remember how the gods

    have spiked the human gene pool with an extra
    tincture of loneliness so that even a dog
    Asleep by the stove provided some company.

There is the girl in class, telling of her brother Ramon, missing in action in Iraq, for three years ... and the family's hope that he will return. There is the neighbor across the street who built a house so big it blocks the view of the hills (even though "I don't expect you / to put your house on the market and vanish.")

There is the lady at the health food store who makes up a story about being in a "school for Buddhist nuns just outside Benares." And there is our poet, apparently, apologizing for getting so het up about global warming that he destroys an evening soirée with his friends.

§     §     §

Dennis is writing the stuff of our lives: wars with neighbors, the wars we create, people who appear in our lives, people who disappear from our lives, people who lie, and the gods we create. Then there are the characters who appear on a bus-ride to Pittsburgh, people that he wants to tell of his plan to save the world. He is literate, funny, opinionated, imaginative, aware ... pissed, lonely, a tad looney, and willing to claim that the quiet man who repairs bicycles in town may be "one of the meek, one who believes"

    His kind isn't likely to inherit the earth
    And he isn't upset about it.

This is his tenth book of poems. He also won the Pulitzer some time back, but don't let that deter you. He's honorable. And good.

--- A. W. Allworthy
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