cover image Infidelities


Elise Paschen, Author Story Line Press $10.95 (86p) ISBN 978-1-885266-28-6

In this impressive, skillful first collection, Paschen assumes roles and dons masks to explore varieties of infidelity. Assuming multiple personae (daughter, sister, gun moll, sophisticated lover) and speaking in voices that are not always distinct, Paschen explores inconstancy from shifting vantage points: ""The married man calls me a master/ of contradiction, telling how I love/ to alternate my point of view."" Ranging from fantasy (""Love Spell"" is a fierce supplication, reminiscent of ancient remedies, enlisting the help of burning myrrh to ""make him unable/ to sleep with any other"") to the repetitive, rhyming, lyrics-like lines of ""Torch Song,"" these poems feature a strong female voice doing its best to articulate hard truths about love and betrayal. Most successful, however, are the poems exposing a child's view of the drama enacted by betrayed/betraying parents; in these works, which are grounded in a particularity often lacking in other poems, vulnerability softens the focus and lends shading and depth. (Nov.)