cover image Horror Vacui

Horror Vacui

Thomas Heise, . . Sarabande, $21.95 (84pp) ISBN 978-1-932511-32-1

Haunted by the death of a father, a quietly panicked speaker stages a wily battle against silence in the 26 poems of Heise's debut. The title poem imagines a family spinning out of control in the absence of paternal rule: "You see, over there,/ your children have taken the house/ apart plank by plank and have/ thrown it in the water." A harrowing series of poems called "These New Days" describe a world forever changed and unfamiliar: "...if returned// would you discover someone else, strange in my tattered suit?" And several revisions of the poet's own obituary attempt to accept and take control of death: "Mr. William Thomas Heise, 29,/ entered into rest from massive heart/ failure on Friday, September 22nd,/ 2000. He was scuba diving alone/ at the moment of his death." Many of the poems are cast in narrow, justified columns, as if to head off even the minor chaos of jagged lines. (Apr.)