Children with Enemies

Stuart Dischell. Univ. of Chicago, $18 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-0-226-49859-1
Dischell (Backwards Days, Dig Safe) elevates ordinary moments in these poems of deep attention and patient detail. Amid a world full of worries, there are cows in a field reminding us that they are “Asleep all night on our hooves,/ Our fears are common, our sounds monotonous.” There’s a strawberry at the perfect moment of ripeness, “shaped like a big toe, plucked/ in California who-knows-when,” waiting to be enjoyed. And Dischell writes of receiving a glance from a potential admirer that “strummed once across the strands of my DNA.” The speakers in these poems admit to being watchers, as in a revelation about passing the same stranger every morning, noticing that “She owns several coats, all of them/ The same length.” The poems often feel suspended in time, moving between memory, history, and present moment: a young man leaves the Bronx to fight in the Spanish Civil War, dying in the Pyrenees; remembering the moment he left, his former lover turns “her face in the direction she thought was Spain.” Earnest without being cloying, Dischell writes as if he’s thumbing through a photo album, wishing to fill in the missing details just outside each frame. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/21/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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