cover image The Devastation

The Devastation

Melissa Buzzeo. Nightboat (UPNE, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (184p) ISBN 978-1-937658-25-0

"I wanted to water that which was not there. The partitions fell. There was no matter." Buzzeo's book-length poem, written mostly in prose, imagines two lovers who survive the "Devastation" and lie at the bottom of the ocean. Water is a philosophical problem, a gap in meaning, a void, a space beyond and after civilization. An "I" and a "you" try to meet within that void and find their own radically new way of life, even though "The water killed itself./ The water will never come back. We will die lapping after it." The urgency that Buzzeo (For Want and Sound) usually prefers, along with her telegraphic images, suggests alarm about global climate change, but the dominant mode is less political or ecological than philosophical. Buzzeo draws on radical Francophone prose writers (including Duras, Bataille, and Deleuze) as much as she draws on English-language poems, writing for readers familiar with their idiom. The result is often repetitive, and feels long for its genre, while still achieving a memorably insistent directness. (Feb.)