cover image Receipt


Karen Leona Anderson. Milkweed Editions (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN

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.)