by Nick Lantz
University of Wisconsin Press, 2024
Paper: 978-0-299-34794-9
Library of Congress Classification PS3612.A586E53 2024
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

A chicken lives for eighteen months after its head is cut off. Tourists pose with an inflatable sex doll at the 9/11 memorial. A sex-reveal party starts a wildfire in a forest named for a conquistador. The author’s cancer treatments are intertwined with the rise of domestic fascism. “Is that something I should put in a poem?” asks Nick Lantz; the resounding answer is yes! 

Mixing sincerity with irony, lyric with vernacular, Lantz’s collisions of style and subject are at their most vibrant in the long sequence at the center of the collection, a series of poems that brilliantly capture the disruption and disorder of our lives during the COVID-19 pandemic in breathless, unpunctuated verse. Depicting the uncanny dissonance of living during and beyond events that feel world ending, this volume reminds us of the ways in which we carry our own traumas and the traumas of history with us in our daily lives.

      Life is all gilded frescoes
and Arnold Palmers 

at the clubhouse until Titus and his men 
      pass through with torches, 
until Cortés and his men 
pass through with torches, until Sherman 

      and his men and so on, 
until men forget 
what their hands looked like without torches.
—Excerpt from “Ruin”

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