cover image The Interrogation

The Interrogation

Michael Bazzett. Milkweed, $16 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-57131-493-2

Bazzett (You Must Remember This) encounters the disorienting juncture between fairy tale and nightmare in his latest collection. His works are often reminiscent of Russell Edson, bizarre poems that feature malevolence and a chilling atmosphere balanced by humor and twisted logic. In the title poem, the speaker narrates an interrogation with a younger self who may be an imposter: “I walk over to the table and sit,/ recognizing the wary lift of his eyebrows when I say, Why not/ just tell me who you are? And once again he mutters my name.” In another poem, a man with no mouth explains, “I can’t tell you how happy I am to announce/ how happy I am. No, really. I can’t tell you.” Elsewhere, a baby is “born wearing a worsted-wool suit”; a stranger narrates the troubling act of “undoing the series of springs and tiny hooks” that connect his genitals and secretly slips the organs into a fellow subway passenger’s handbag. Bazzett’s simple lines and conversational language counterbalance the unnerving aspects that lurk beneath, never fully breaking the surface. “You hear only the clink of cutlery/ and a child crying. There will// be no gunfire, no serrated light,” he writes. Bazzett’s poems feel almost instinctual: “an extension/ of evolution// flowing from the throat.// Thoughts rise/ like antlers.” [em](Oct.) [/em]