cover image Machete


Tomás Q. Morin. Knopf, $27 (96p) ISBN 978-0-593-31964-2

The perceptive third collection from Morin (A Larger Country) asks readers to go beyond seeing the world at face value, offering vivid descriptions and cutting political critique. In "New Year’s Eve," while analyzing "The Racial Dot Map of America," Morin notices the only color unassigned to a racial category is white, leading him to the conjecture that "White is//where the brush waits for a spark/ to burn it all new." Elsewhere, critiquing state violence in "Extraordinary Rendition," Morin imagines a CIA agent belatedly coming to difficult realizations: "a therapist will one day say guilt,/ forgiveness, and pain to our agent/ to unsuccessfully explain how death,/ when it comes from the sky, makes a music/ so hypnotic you will never forget it." Morin’s unique powers of observation also extend to intimate moments, as in a poem in which his young son becomes a geometric embodiment of completeness: "I drop my shoulder/ and now the baby// is at a 45 degree/ angle. He’s the hypotenuse// that closes my triangle." Playful and piercing, this impressive collection demonstrates a radical kind of empathy. (Oct.)