cover image A Mouth in California

A Mouth in California

Graham W. Foust, . . Flood, $14.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-9819520-1-7

Foust has achieved a wide reputation in and beyond experimental poetry circles for his clipped, breathless poems, often no longer than one or two haiku, but packing an intimate punch that belies their length. In this, his fourth collection, he often lets his poems go on for a page or two, but sacrifices none of their power and concision. Here again are Foust’s startling one-liners, just this side of nonsense, yet hauntingly accurate: “Money belongs together,” “There should be more works of art like those/ on which I wrote no dissertation,” “They don’t give trophies for frenzy,/ do they?” Here, too, are quiet self-characterizations: “What takes place in me stays there,” says the excellent, three-page “Poem Beside Itself.” And, too, there are the 20-word poems for which Foust is known: “You don’t lust/ for what you/ want. You lust/ for what you/ can get. I’ll/ carve you your/ hankered-for/ chemical/ oath. I’ll show/ you the badge/ in my mouth,” reads, in its entirety, “Poem with Rules and Laws.” Commenting on contemporary American life without explicitly describing it, Foust (Necessary Stranger ) remains a poet to watch. (Jan.)