The Falling Hour

David Wojahn, Author University of Pittsburgh Press $25 (80p) ISBN 978-0-8229-3995-5

Current events and popular culture buzz through Wojahn's fifth collection (Late Empire, etc.), bent through slightly distorted versions of sonnets, couplets, tercets and other traditional forms. Demonstrating a freewheeling use of these forms, Wojahn takes on local culture, national news and world history. In ""Hey Joe,"" he describes listening to the Jimi Hendrix song about a man going to ""shoot his woman down"" while in a bar watching a broadcast of the O.J. Simpson trial. ""Panels,"" which is part of ""Elegy and Perisphere,"" also addresses the mediated way the world's horrors reach us, juxtaposing Lex Luthor and Jack Ruby ""as Cronkite for a third time points out Oswald/ on the blood-slick floor."" But there are personal moments, too. ""Excavation Photo"" is a beautiful, terrifying and sensual poem revealing something about the ""bitter eschatologies of touch,"" making love and discovering cancer. But what distinguishes Wojahn from other poets who troll the headlines for big ironies is that he is technically interesting and accomplished. In this collection, his diverse influences--his own Minnesota, rock and roll, pentameter, the New York World's Fair, Troy and Ovid--merge admirably. (June)