cover image Door to a Noisy Room

Door to a Noisy Room

Peter Waldor, . . Alice James, $14.95 (62pp) ISBN 978-1-882295-66-1

Waldor’s deliberate, terse, sometimes wise debut shows how many emotions and situations can grow from one small set of stylistic tools. His short poems in slow, clear, clipped free-verse lines, all of which break on the phrase (“the masters failed/ to pass through/ the needles”), include lust, frustration, scenes from Jewish history, a lover’s generosity in bed, a worshipper’s ambivalence towards his God, and a son’s respect for his late father. The best poems (sometimes the shortest) bring two or more of these situations together, as in “Insurance Man” (Waldor’s father’s profession): “Shepherds always/ want a shepherd./ Even the Lord asks.” A poem about a tryst (perhaps a honeymoon) concludes by asking “Are others like me:/ ruthless and brilliant/ before love, and afterwards/ a lamb?” Another standout considers Uriah the Hittite, “loyal/ soldier, husband” from one standpoint, “enemy/ of Israel” from another. Waldor’s interests are finally less prayerful than familial, humane, and loyal to the good people and the simple delights of this world. (Jan.)