cover image The Book of Joshua

The Book of Joshua

Zachary Schomburg. Black Ocean (SPD, dist.), $19.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-939568-06-9

With wit, humor, tenderness, and his characteristic, logic-bending surrealism, Schomburg (Fjords, vol. I) probes into the subjects of futurity, personal history, and mythmaking. Short, dated prose poems (titled "1977" through "2044") comprise the book's first two sections, "Earth" and "Mars," and propel a narrative of discovery and self-making just beyond the borders of a recognizable world. In this dreamscape, the missing presence of "Joshua" haunts every turn: a figure in "a white boat floating on blood"; a name carved on the side of a spaceship; a name uttered by friends and family. This interlocutor, a vessel and keeper of dreams, acts as the big "Other" driving our protagonist's hopes and doubts. "I didn't feel like living in a thing not shaped like me anymore," Schomburg writes. "I woke up dangling from an umbilical cord... And there you were, Joshua, on the blood in a white boat, rocking." In the final section, "Blood," Schomburg reinserts the images developed earlier in lineated, page-wandering poems, once again addressing Joshua. But here, the narrative explodes: "white boat rocking// swans/ rocking// a cradle on a// dirty/ loop... // where were you I was calling." And the language only grows increasingly volatile from there: "do we even know enough to die// who are you what/ year is new." (July)