cover image It Becomes You

It Becomes You

Dobby Gibson. Graywolf, $15 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-55597-632-3

Gibson (Skirmish) got noticed for his first two books, which combined a sparky, bizarre postsurrealism with an understated, familiar sadness. This third outing might be his best; it’s surely his plainest—the sadness, and its attendant wisdom, can take over. Here is Gibson’s version of human progress, from “After the Slap, Before the Apology”: “First we invent stuff,/ then we invent stuff to make that stuff/ freeing up our time to worry about what to do next.” And here are lovely yet drab observations from the long title poem: “Another silence ends in conversation./.../ We’re furiously inventing millions of new ways/ to stay exactly the same.” Gibson’s conversational diction and free verse line are nothing if not contemporary, but his willingness to face disappointment connects these poems less to models like Dean Young (addressed in one beautiful homage) than to late Wallace Stevens and early Mark Strand. And the volume, for all its gray tones, resignations, and off-white skies, has consolation aplenty— domestic satisfactions, witty one-liners, and the real beauties of its settings among them. (Jan.)