cover image Free Cell

Free Cell

Anselm Berrigan, . . City Lights, $13.95 (106pp) ISBN 978-0-87286-502-0

Berrigan's fourth collection, and the second volume in City Lights' new Spotlight Series, is composed of three poems or sequences. The first and longest, “Have a Good One,” is an extended series of seemingly flippant personal and public observations (“Stop telling me/ I look tired.// I know what/ I look like.// Tell me/ how I feel”; “The problem of free will/ is not that it does or does not/ exist, but that it's pointless”) punctuated (or titled) with the phrase “Have a Good One,” which appears at least once per page. Berrigan (Some Notes on My Programming ) may have learned some of his disjunctive sprawl and spontaneity from his famous poet parents, Alice Notley and especially Ted Berrigan, but his poems have a kind of slacker cool and political awareness all his own: “You are// what your// record says// you are,” he reminds. Next comes the book's only shortish poem, “Let Us Sample Protection Together,” in which “The room stares back from its things.” The book concludes with “To Hell with Sleep,” another skittery romp through Berrigan's associative haze. While he isn't reinventing poetry, he is carrying his parents' tradition of poetry as a way of life, a community, proudly into the 21st century. (Oct.)