cover image The Heaven-Sent Leaf

The Heaven-Sent Leaf

Katy Lederer, . . BOA, $16 (59pp) ISBN 978-1-934414-15-6

The 45 almost-sonnets in this second collection from Lederer (Winter Sex ) meditate on money and commerce (“The earth is a dollar and the moon is a silvery coin”), wondering how to find meaning as a cog in a capitalist machine. At times, the poems yearn to be free of big business, but the vibrancy of this series is found in the viscous push-pull between money and Eros; the tension sings (“I’ve brought you all these presents which I’ve placed beneath this/ flowering tree:/ Bright red box, bright blue box, and a small vial of Botox”). In an era when business asks, “Who stole my cheese?” these poems are populated with superbly chosen allusions to finance and literature. “Heaven-sent Leaf” comes from Goethe; “Brainworker,” the title of several poems, was coined by the influential economist J.K. Galbraith. Nietzsche and Lyn Hejinian, among others, also appear. At times, Lederer’s verse is sparkling, though a meandering prosiness sometimes flattens the lines. But at her best, Lederer combines musical lines with excitingly jerky leaps of thought, claiming for poetry a fact that usually seems farthest from it: “There is, in the heart, the hard-rendering profit.” (Oct.)