Skirmish

Dobby Gibson, Author . Graywolf $15 (87p) ISBN 978-1-55597-515-9

A noirish current runs through Gibson's second collection, which finds fascination in dark, abandoned urban or suburban spaces and unsolvable everyday mysteries: “There's a street beneath this street, a city beneath this city,/ inhabited by empty tunnels/ built for trains that never arrived.” These mostly short, free verse poems hum with gloomy humor and the mood of pregnant anticipation one finds in a Paul Auster novel. Gibson (Polar ) is no escapist, though, portraying an anxious America in the new millennium. A palpable sense of paranoia is figured as spies who crop up in several poems. The sense of alienation pervades not just the public but also the domestic sphere (“Soon I realized: they weren't actors,/ they were my family”). Gibson also tries the fable, where he finds a comfortable home for his brand of black humor: “There was once a roofer who lived/ a full life even though a stake/ had been driven through his forehead.” Gibson mixes the language of public discourse, science, TV and everyday conversation in a chatty if bleak voice that is both accessible and satisfyingly challenging. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2008
Release date: 01/01/2009
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