cover image frank: sonnets

frank: sonnets

Diane Seuss. Graywolf, $16 (152p) ISBN 978-1-64445-045-1

The ambitious fifth collection from Seuss (Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl) includes 120 sonnets that take the reader on a ride of wild abandonment and exuberance to counter the deaths (her lover’s, her father’s, and her friend Mikel’s) that suffuse the work. While Seuss breaks conventional sonnet rules of meter and rhyme, these 14-line poems are both taut and free. “The sonnet,” Seuss writes toward the end of the collection, “like poverty, teaches you what you can do/ without.” She tackles addiction (“the brood of meth and Thunder-bird whose amniotic/ sacs were tinted blue he harrowed us unbarrowed us he sparrowed us/ and nailed us then he jacked our 7-Eleven and he hauled us up to heaven”), farm animals (“it’s this spring the twin/ lambs seek, and yes it’s green and yes it’s sweet, without the tinny aftertaste/ of pail, and so they wander off the trail”); Jesus (‘‘the most daddyish daddy-man of all”); and poverty (“finding out/ what I called violets was really petrified chicken shit”), finding lyricism in every corner. Seuss’s intimate candor and musical ear make this an inventive and unforgettable book. (Mar.)