cover image Loose Woman

Loose Woman

Sandra Cisneros. Knopf Publishing Group, $23 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-679-41644-9

The three parts of this spirited collection address the heart, ``spangled again and lopsided.'' In her second book of poems, Cisneros ( My Wicked Wicked Ways ) presents a street-smart, fearlessly liberated persona who raves, sometimes haphazardly, always with abandon, about the real thing: ``I am . . . / The lust goddess without guilt. / The delicious debauchery. You bring out / the primordial exquisiteness in me.'' As if breaking all the rules (``Because someone once / said Don't / do that! / you like to do it''), she delves with urgency into things carnal--sequins, cigars, black lace bras and menstrual blood. Readers of Cisneros's coming-of-age novel The House on Mango Street (which Knopf is reissuing in hardcover) will recognize the almost mythic undertow of her voice; it never weakens. We meet again a powerful, fiercely independent woman of Mexican heritage, though this time innocence has long been lost. For her the worlds of language and life are one and the same: ``Lorenzo, I forget what's real. / I mix up the details of what happened / with what I witnessed inside my / universe.'' These poems--short-lined, chantlike, biting--insistently rework the same themes to tap them. In the end, however, despite the accessible boldness of the writing, the poems lack the depth, the complexity and the lyrical magic of the author's fiction. QPB alternate; first serial to the New Yorker. (May)