Home Burial

Michael McGriff. Copper Canyon (Consortium, dist.), $15 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-55659-384-0
McGriff’s second volume begins with a tale and a shock: “Kissing Hitler,” says the poem of the same name, was the author’s name for “siphoning gas,/ huffing shop rags.// And we kissed him everywhere,” over an adolescent “summer/ when people just went crazy.” The pages that follow delve further into rural hardscrabble misfortune and misadventure, in rough free verse with an American gothic affect: “Is your charity the green rot/ of a fence post?” McGriff asks. “Are you near me/ as I clean this ashtray/ with my sleeve?” With rough portrayals of “rifle shots and laughter,/ gravel roads crunching under pickups,” “the night inside a barn owl’s wing-hush,” and even a reminiscence of snake handling, McGriff (Dismantling the Hills) can evoke early Denis Johnson or early C.D. Wright, substituting his own Pacific Northwest for her mid-South. “The Light in November” falls on “the Lucky Logger Diner” and “behind my father/ as he walks home from the cannery,” while other signs of rebirth and epiphany, luck and ease, recede before a territorial “thin white noise hissing/ at the back of everything.” Readers may disagree as to how much is new, in subject, in treatment, and in sound, but McGriff’s vivid grit remains hard to gainsay. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-1-61932-030-7
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