The Dead Get by with Everything: Poems

Bill Holm, Author Milkweed Editions $10.95 (92p) ISBN 978-0-915943-55-5
In the poem ``Genealogy,'' Holm remembers characteristics of dead family members and sees traces of them in himself; it's like ``living with all / these dead people inside me,'' he writes. Looking back at the real and imagined lives of his Icelandic forebears, Holm is both wistfully appreciative and mournfully sad, reminiscing about the unusual sounds of their language and bemoaning the effacement of their culture in America. He writes in a hardy, unpretentious style that is more empirical than introspective. Traveling out West, infused with the dauntless pioneer spirit of his progenitors, the poet trudges through the countryside making unprovocative connections between the cycles of nature and the dynamics of human life. The Grand Canyon prompts these thoughts: ``Here we're all children waiting on a branch / for the sound of something climbing up / from the hole nothing should ever get out of.'' Not even death can motivate Holm ( Boxelder Bug Variations ) to probe very deeply and analyze his true feelings. In the title poem, the demise of a close friend elicits only inarticulate anger: ``Who do the dead think they are! / Up and dying in the middle of the night. '' (May)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
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