cover image Post-


Wayne Miller. Milkweed (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-57131-470-3

In a fourth book that is as ambitious as his previous work, yet both quieter and sharper, Miller (The City, Our City) raises important questions about complicity and responsibility in a culture whose “whole structure rests/ on a sturdy foundation// of ice.” Miller often probes these personal and social issues in eerie, intimate lyrics. In “Post-elegy,” the poet comes to the chilling realization that his deceased father’s car could be “the down payment/ of some house we might live in/ for the rest of our lives.” Other poems find him adopting a more public, Whitman-esque persona, or using wry allegories to explore contemporary politics, or both. In “Hoax Bomb,” the eponymous device sits “absolute/ and silent as a poem. Images/ blew outward and everywhere.” Similarly, in “The People’s History,” Miller writes, “In the windows above the street, the People looked down/ and thought, Thank god we’re not the People/ trapped, now, in the confines of those bodies.” Variety is a virtue here: more ordinary meditations on fatherhood and marriage add texture to the book’s politics, as do formally exploratory pieces, such as the mysterious, imagistic “Landings.” As its plain yet audacious title suggests, Miller’s latest is both a development and a departure, and its best work elucidates contemporary life’s unsettling realities with an uncanny candor. (Apr.)