Salt Pier

Dore Kiesselbach. Univ. of Pittsburgh, $15.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-8229-6217-5
Emotionally direct and visually all alike in column-shaped free verse, the poems in this debut from the Minneapolis-based Kiesselbach open up to show startling verbal skills, intellectual depths, and sensory complications. “Beach Thanksgiving” wheels from seaside scenes into one, then another, sad memory: “Fire’s an assortment of sparks down the beach/ beside which your new family cooks./ Asked to bear a ring,/ you pulled and pulled at your hair.” For an elderly mother, once a gardener, “Joy’s bolted/ in her face to sorrow/ like a pair of shears.” Marital love in the present (Kiesselbach has a particular talent for love poems), what looks like abuse in the past, the cycle of green growing things, the cold of the north, and the warmth of the animal world all inform these investigations of confession and its discontents, of commitments given and withheld, sometimes through stark life story but more often, in a wonderful involution, through symbols contemplated at short remove—in turkeys, for example, whose unlikely dignity rebukes human discontents: “In fall’s/ ballroom they bow/ and straighten, straighten,/ bow, and finish/ with a salad course.” (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
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