cover image The Odicy

The Odicy

Cyrus Console. Omnidawn (IPG, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-890650-52-0

Very old methods and very new American speech collide, strike sparks, and end up burning brightly indeed in this shockingly memorable book-length sequence, the second volume from Console (The Archetypes). In three six-line stanzas per page, all in strict pentameters, Console follows a character called Anthony through a maze, or an "odyssey," that seems to contain all of culture: sensational anecdotes ("At one point she upset a bottlefull/ Of Tylenol onto an empty stomach"), political critique ("Remarketing is what the language suffered/ Agonies and died for"), vaunting declaration ("Oddsmaker, astraphobe, are we not intimate/ Charged cousins of shadow clouds?") and meta-poetic reflection ("Thus one rhyme word telegraphs the next/ Rhyme word, ruining the thing"). Though they seem disparate on first encounter, the five sets of 18-line poems end up sticking together, in part through the ill-starred adventures of Anthony (a bit like John Berryman's Henry), and in part through schemes of echo, argument, and repetition that emerge the second and third time through. Console's work leaves more questions than it answers, and it may baffle those unused to collage; it also, however, gives pleasure in its challenge, one to which readers should rise. (Sept.)