cover image Receipt


Karen Leona Anderson. Milkweed Editions (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-57131-472-7

Anderson (Punish Honey) uses food and money to address the fragile ecosystem of female passion and position in her second collection. The book is divided into three sections whose titles%E2%80%94Recipe, Receipt, and Re%E2%80%94hint at Anderson's skillful wordplay. Here, instructions take on eerie duality and urgency: "Incorporate the fat in layers;// careful not to overdo it;/ you're overdoing it; exactly; I am;/ kneading hand over hand// over hand." They can also stretch to cover far more than how to prepare a toothsome dish: "So slow, the directions on how to stay newly wed:/ marshmallow, movie, coconut, marriage, whip cream,// baby, mayonnaise, baby: the basics,/ my whitewashed ranch slopped down in the canyon." Anderson's poems prioritize wordplay, assonance, and alliteration, which lead her to surprising turns of phrase. A new boyfriend, for example, is not only "collared, sterilized", but also "tick-rich." Anderson also inventively utilizes colons as a means to funnel from thought to thought. Her poem "Beauty Nails ($39.95)" wedges the reader into the same narrow position as the author herself: "On either side of the salon: Seed/ of Life Christian Bookshop, Planned/ Parenthood of Maryland: ignore,/ desire, ignore those what-you're-fors." Anderson astutely recognizes the importance of desire and connection: "We all want// to be sieved and saved, a signal,/ an emergency." (Apr.)