cover image The Ghost in Us Was Multiplying

The Ghost in Us Was Multiplying

Brent Armendinger. Noemi (SPD, dist.), $14.25 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-934819-35-7

In his debut collection, Armendinger attempts to reconcile his relationships with language, the world, and other people. There is a war going on and he presents poetry as a sort of life raft, or a shield; both are full of holes, but those holes present themselves as weight, as masses of meaning. He asks "words to unlike themselves" so that we can all move freely without the baggage. But the speaker is also tentative: "My voice sounds like salt sifted backwards into sea." Armendinger%E2%80%99s poems are poems about AIDS and about war, but they also use these topics to discuss the broader issues of a world in which they exist. In the second section, where the poems address literal war, Guant%C3%A1namo, and Chelsea Manning, political realities become metaphors for the war of AIDS, which in turn becomes a metaphor for real war. The cycle is dizzying and hypnotizing, forming a sort of interior monologue. This is a record of the ticking of a particular time: "You ask does the body know its own history," Armendinger writes. "Under my clothes I%E2%80%99m covered/ in aftermath." (Jan.)