cover image Atlantis: Poems

Atlantis: Poems

Mark Doty / Author Harper Perennial $22 (103p) ISBN 978-0-06-0

Doty's fourth collection, coming after the 1993 National Book Critics' Circle award-winning My Alexandria, is anchored in the lush and pressing world of loss. He begins calmly with sensually descriptive poems that fully observe the complex brilliances of grasses of a salt marsh, of the shell of a crab or a row of mackerel. Loss and grief are introduced in a narrative poem, ``Grosse Fugue,'' about a friend dying of AIDS. Grief intensifies and climaxes with the title poem, the book's centerpiece, a chronicle of his lover and other friends infected with AIDS, highlighting the related nightmares and desperations that become part of everyday life. Anger follows as settings shift from seaside to inner city; the speaker's spirit toughens. The stunning ``Homo Will Not Inherit'' explodes with pride, rage and shame over the longings of a gay man in an urban landscape. The concluding poems, returned to the natural world and heavy and ripe with the imagery of fall and winter, unearth a saving, harsh beauty in the movement of bodies through space and time toward death. (Oct.)