Trace

Eric Pankey, Author
Eric Pankey. Milkweed (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (92p) ISBN 978-1-57131-449-9
Reviewed on: 02/25/2013
Release date: 01/01/2013
Open Ebook - 89 pages - 978-1-57131-873-2
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Pankey’s ninth collection follows the poet into the hushed “gray dawn” of depression as he searches, often in vain, for God, and for faith in nature and himself. Pankey is compelled by the way this longing for the divine can be present and absent within the same hour, how poems where “antlers hold open the sky” can just as soon lead to a weary married couple who are “so tired of watching the war on TV:/ The same body dragged through the street,/ Snagged for a moment in a pothole.” While certain of his handlings of perfunctory sex, cloud watching, and hangovers might make for poems that feel equally passionless, loafing, and achy, it’s hard to deny the conflict that Pankey explores honestly and powerfully in these new poems. Poetry, God, nature—none of these things provide lasting solace, if they provide any at all: “One reads until each page is blank,/ keeps reading,/ As if the truth of scripture will be revealed.” Where Pankey goes looking for the heavens he most often finds his own body, or a trace of a myth in nature that helps him challenge the old stories. “No gods offered us fire,” he writes in “Cold Mountain Mediations”—“A burning branch/ fell from a tree and we dragged it back home.” (Feb)
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