cover image A Hotel in Belgium

A Hotel in Belgium

Brett Fletcher Lauer. Four Way (UPNE, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-935536-39-0

“A world is heaven/ until it inherits a name,” writes Lauer in a debut whose name is overly simple relative to the rigorous, constant work of the mind that takes place within it. Lauer’s poems ripple like muscle, even as they circle around the notion that we may not possess tools strong enough to arrive at a singular definition of who and what we are. Here, “We construct a world./ The world is made of this room. This room made/ of chance.” The world is one where “Occasionally/ a ship’s horn is heard, enters into/ thought to be experienced/ as another analogous instance/ of morbid conditions prevailing.” By laying bare superstitious patterns of mind that we routinely interpret as meaning, Lauer’s poems reveal the indeterminacy of what we’re able to know—“We can’t assess the damages with defective instruments”—without forgoing what beauty is to be found in the attempts we make to know it. Optimistic at their core, these poems are full-hearted even when dogged by existential emptiness: “I stood with an ideal attitude/ toward the wind, the flower purely physical,/ the vase almost blue. In the absence of perfect/ information, this is for your eyes only. In this/ perfect absence, absence is like information.” (Apr.)