Groom Falconer: Poems

Norman Dubie, Author W. W. Norton & Company $17.95 (61p) ISBN 978-0-393-02662-7

Catastrophe, disease, death and allied states of uncomfortable consciousness --commonly hallucinatory and religious, heightened and extreme--are the subjects of Dubie's characteristically dark and disquieting 14th collection of poems. Populated with ``dead fathers,'' ``swollen'' infants, ``purple rows of charged gladiolas,'' ``a great red cave of muscle'' and ``a naked Navajo giantess eating a peach,'' the poems shift rapidly from the horrifying experiences of historical figures such as Georg Trakl, Edgar Allen Poe and Ethel Rosenberg to the fevered sleep of Dubie's wife and his own brushes with fear and disaster. His poetry, vivid, cynical and estranging, can result in hypnotic imagery and unforgettably bizarre stories imbued with individual vision, and Dubie's flat, unobtrusive style works well as a foil in the best poems, giving grotesque dreams and daytime obsessions due gravity. However, some poems strain credibility, making fantastic connections that appear to court absurdity for its own sake. (Apr.)