cover image FLEET RIVER


James Longenbach, . . Univ. of Chicago, $14 (72pp) ISBN 978-0-226-49270-4

With emblematic landscapes (Italian and rural American) and a consistent voice, Longenbach (Threshold) presents his second collection as a loose book-length sequence, describing his speaker's progress through an adulthood marked by an enduringly affectionate marriage, two young daughters, and a nevertheless persistent sense of regret. "We live our lives/ Over again if we live long enough," he writes in "Anniversary," and the poems that lead up to that conclusion meditate on the always-mixed emotions that mark the course of a life. "Who gets to change?/ Who gets the life/ Imagined when we're young?" The greater range of Longenbach's first collection has been traded for greater self-assurance in these insistently personal retrospectives, which suggest debts to Louise Glück and to Carl Phillips (who together have replaced Frost and Stevens as this poet's models). While some openings find nice metaphors ("Because I did not want/ To be heard// I made a harpsichord"), Longenbach's real attractions now lie in the terse words he finds for a deep inner life, revealing why "the others... nestled beside us, unhurried/ As persimmons," or explaining why "the accumulation of detail/ Felt like loss." (May)