cover image A Dream of Mind: Poems

A Dream of Mind: Poems

C. K. Williams. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (99pp) ISBN 978-0-374-28894-5

The voice in the poems of Williams's ( Flesh and Blood ) new collection is one at odds with itself, vacillating between the intense desire to make sense of dreams, jealousies and mortality, yet acknowledging the great difficulty of doing so. In ``Signs,'' a marvelous examination of a man's discovery of a friend's wife's betrayal, the poet is at his best. A master of nuance, and a keen observer of both the traitor and the betrayed, he carries us down the ever-curious, ever-variable paths of jealousy. The shorter poems are timely in their discussions of bankruptcy, religion, betrayal and euthanasia, but Williams is most successful in the longer, subtler narrative poems. The collection concludes with ``Helen,'' which, like this poem's subject, is a ``final, searing loveliness'': in sinewy lines, Williams describes the metamorphosis of a man's fluctuating love for his wife during her terminal illness. Though his dialectics sometimes seem relentless, the poems encompass all that is ``seemingly urgent but possibly purposeless''--the misconstructions, communions and imperfections of life. And Williams is a superb witness: ``I behold the infernal beholder, I behold / the uncanny beheld, / this mind streaming through me, its turbulent stillness.'' (June