cover image Eternal Patrol

Eternal Patrol

Russell Dillon. Forklift Books (SPD, dist.), $14.95 trade paperback (82p) ISBN 978-0-9882287-3-3

This sincere, winding, and attentive debut collection from Dillon explores a strange landscape in which our highly-attuned guide reminds himself, "Sometimes, I forget that you don't see everything I see." He invites his readers to shed reservations and engage with the universe at large: "The gods are half the myth,/ the other half is the believing." With the poems' urgency subtly underscoring their own necessity, Dillon's music is part staccato, part crescendo, and totally operatic; but the notion of vocation is described in visceral terms: "You never wanted to sing/ before they wired the mouth shut,/ but after that, the desire was terrible." We share in Dillon's discovery of simultaneous beauty and hideousness%E2%80%94perhaps his greatest accomplishment here%E2%80%94and we're implored to "Remember: the poison and its antidote/ are both synthesized from one mother venom. We can't deny/ that." These poems operate in the space of impossibility; we need look no further than his summarization of history's every love letter: "What is it you're unable to surrender, and please/ may I have that." An intolerable vivacity lends the appearance of unquenchability, as if the poems continue to tick even with the book closed, and perhaps it's best to consider each one representative of "a work in progress, like undressing/ an angel." (Nov.)