cover image Cemetery Nights

Cemetery Nights

Stephen Dobyns. Penguin Books, $14.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-14-058584-1

Line breaks notwithstanding, Dobyns's sixth volume of poetryhe is also author of the praised Saratoga series of detective novelshas the structure of a self-contained collection of prose poems. Not strictly linked, they comprise a mythology of Dobyn's own creation. Some recurrent characters include: the dead, angels and devils of questionable competence, God and a variety of faceless creatures meant to designate Everyman. The poet and his family put in appearances in several parable-like stories, and Dobyns reworks myths in stories about Midas, Orpheus, Odysseus and Theseus. Throughout his work, there is a disturbing amount of pessimism. The extent of random evil in his universe outdoes even the dourest of existential philosophers. Yet such is the power of Dobyns's conviction and his art that these poems have enormous staying power, challenging the reader to refute, if pos-sible, their nightmare vision. (January)