cover image Dayglo


James Meetze, Ahsahta (SPD, dist.), $17.50 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-934103-18-0

A co-editor of the recent volume of uncollected James Schuyler poems, Meetze is not shy about demonstrating the influence the late poet has had upon his work. "So to want without war in the sun,/ to be at war with what we question," ends one poem, echoing Schuyler's own acute sense of rhythm and pointed syntax. But Meetze is distinctly a poet of the West Coast, where, "in all the movies about California youth,/ we are made to believe in gold everywhere." Always at work in these poems is a tension between an ideal, nostalgic California and a real California of today. "Put our city where our mouths are," Meetze writes, "watch all the cars pour out of it." When he moves from dense, fleeting poems into longer, political works, Meetze begins to ask his most poignant questions. The book's title poem, a wandering portrait of California's freeways, graffiti, sunlight, and sounds, reaches its height with a question that defines the book as a whole: "do we ever put down roots?" (Jan.)