cover image Live in Suspense

Live in Suspense

David Groff. Trio House, $18 trade paper (106p) ISBN 978-1-949487-15-2

The sharp, intelligent third collection from Groff (Clay) riffs on sex, death, and loss. The moving title poem addresses fear and the fragility of love, but the bulk of the book is a bitter assessment of the speaker’s father, a man of God who dies mourning his former parish and his Cape Cod house, a moldy mess despised by the son: “My father’s spine-split books,/ the cameras’ cracked accordions,/ the sheepskin of diplomas,/ the piano’s rusty intestines...” (“Prodigal”). In response to a poem about familial misdoings, the father cries: “Write about someone else’s family!” Mother-son poems are kinder but less captivating, though a clever ghazal eloquently rhymes “first son” with “worst son.” Having survived a childhood of tight-lidded Christianity, the gay adult son in these poems passes a succession of churches during a Sunday morning road race, poignantly remarking, “God harvests the town and scatters/ us unbelievers to our Sunday funk:/ my heart rate monitor ticking my pace” (“Chaff.”). Groff memorably contends with grief and reckoning in these stirring pages. (July)