cover image Adventures in Ancient Egypt: Poems

Adventures in Ancient Egypt: Poems

Albert Goldbarth. Ohio State University Press, $14.95 (104pp) ISBN 978-0-8142-0715-4

Goldbarth is fearless in the face of world and personal history, and never less than dazzling in his ability to mate the two in verse. In ""The Saga of Stupidity and Wonder,"" he tells us why even the most ridiculous absurdity deserves attention: ""I'm convinced of this--how anything,/ gripped right and studied long, contains the telescoped/ story of everything."" To prove his point, he recalls that ""In/ 1497, in Zurich, the citizens tried and/ hanged for sorcery (truly) a rooster/ accused of laying an egg."" In these excellent ""Adventures,"" a sleeping wife is ""bubbling the aqua patois of drowned Atlantis"" and a sonnet sequence finds the whole epic redundancy of the universe knocking at ""Mack-O's Hi Tyme Bar."" Just as Goldbarth's 1990 collection, Popular Culture, was haunted by the death of his father, so this book is informed by his dying mother: "" corrupted node in my mother the size of an infant's thumbnail/ logs in pain enough to vastly outbalance cosmology,/ theology, ethics, and all of the gassier -isms."" Goldbarth adores the jargon of hard science but can't help blowing its brains out with funny hyphenates, science-fiction ponderings and poignant counterpoint. The result is a jokey collection that's dead serious, nursery rhymes for Einsteins that demand to be read aloud. (Dec.)