cover image Distance from Loved Ones

Distance from Loved Ones

James Tate. Wesleyan University Press, $14.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-8195-1191-1

Tate ( Reckoner ) tells swirling, surreal stories that challenge the reader sense of language and order as they speak of the absurdity and necessity of love, the schizophrenia of the human psyche in the sensuously overloaded modern world, and the important role of beauty in our lives. amidst all of this madness. Yet the poet's metaphors are comprised of giddy, psychedelic images that relate to one another and to each poem as a whole in ways that exclude the reader--in ``Horse Gets Dark,'' he writes, ``Out of the crevices of our predilections / animalcules begin a recital, boisterous / as sharecroppers, disarming the cucumber / salad of its windchime and coat-hanger.'' Even poems free of cluttered verbiage are difficult to decipher: in ``Quabbin Reservoir,'' there is a village at the bottom of a lake with ``several mailmen swimming in or out,'' and in ``Anatomy,'' the townspeople eagerly await the death of a beautiful woman so that, at last, their ``ugliness will become the standard.'' Tate's poetry represents a deeply personal yet incompletely formed vision. (Nov.)