Thirty-Seven Years from the Stone

Mark Cox, Author University of Pittsburgh Press $14 (58p) ISBN 978-0-8229-5669-3
Although the subject matter of Cox's poems is emphatically ordinary, in this second collection he proves particularly adept at evoking pathos through everyday objects. The ""table between them,"" a son's toy turtle, the yard's molehills--all collectively accumulate the weight of personal history, becoming ""the furniture we built around/ but couldn't move."" More characteristic still of these domestic vignettes is a wry take on the inevitable presence of our former lives and selves: ""the past is always on foot,/ panting, rags bound around its shoes,/ relishing its glimpse/ of the future it sired."" Despite fear of distance from his son following divorce and an impending new marriage, Cox's speaker does not get mired in contemplative gloom. His sense of humor is sly, insinuating, and always at the ready. And it is gentle, as in ""Party of One"": ""Bless the hostesses of America!/ Think of them lovingly stuffing the cavities,/ making sure each pimento/ is in the olive it loves!"" Another poem in this vein, ""The Garglers,"" pokes fun at a couple, each of whom, for different reasons, continues gargling rather than spitting to offer an assurance of love. Some readers, despite such ironic inoculations, will find these man-at-forty stock takings placid and predictable. Still, poems like ""Grain,"" a moving protest against mortality (""I will have to be taken from you, love,/ carried off by strong men,""), will always be scarce commodities. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/13/1998
Release date: 04/01/1998
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Hardcover - 107 pages - 978-0-8229-4065-4
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