Debora Greger, Author . Penguin $16 (97p) ISBN 978-0-14-042433-1

For a book of poems with such a portentous title, Greger's sixth book is at times little more than a trifle. Surely, one can't take "God the alligator [who] had second thoughts" seriously, not when the poet asks such a creature, "am I cold-blooded, too, alligator?/ I've heard you crossed the street,/ the light being green,/ to the natural history museum." It's clear that humor is what Greger is after when she sends her retired God down to her home state of Florida to "watch public television much of the evening." But there is little charm or Stevensian wit in such silliness, however juvenile or benign. Perhaps the speaker has been cooped up for too long in her own ivory tower ("where we rode the elevator/ to higher and higher office"), alluding to the likes of the Holy Bible, Cioran, Yeats, Keats, Shakespeare, Ovid and Aquinas without conveying their sense of gravity. Greger's elegies for Howard Moss and Amy Clampitt, rendered in elegant quatrains stripped of levity, summon a deeper music "heard from the other side," poems that emanate a "deathlike rattle, the raw ululation/ hewn from the pine barrens of this world,// planed and sanded into a threnody." Greger finally hits her lyrical stride in poems like "Head, Perhaps of an Angel" and "The Ruined Abbey" (a triptych of ekphrastic sonnets), exhibiting both formal grace and ease. Like Mary Jo Salter and Cynthia Zarin, all Clampitt devotees, Greger too finds spiritual sustenance through careful observations on nature and art. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
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Open Ebook - 112 pages - 978-1-101-17598-9
Open Ebook - 112 pages - 978-1-101-17706-8
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