cover image Mere Mortals: Poems

Mere Mortals: Poems

Terese Svoboda. University of Georgia Press, $14.95 (129pp) ISBN 978-0-8203-1710-6

``Stop dragging in Chaucer,'' commands an unspecific speaker in a poem capturing a young man's first impressions of a girlfriend's family. Instead of heeding her own words, Svoboda (Cannibal; All Aberration) immediately adds references to Caesar, Cleopatra and Persephone. The classics also inspire her ``Faust,'' a woman in modern dress who ``keeps her shades on/ through breakfast,'' and an acerbic 40-part ``Ptolemy's Rules for High School Reunions.'' There are too many literary figures, too few real people captured in believable action. Poems such as ``Dog/God'' (about dyslexia) prove her eye to be more than bookish. Many of the finest poems (``Philomela'' and ``Death for Franchise'' among them) lead readers so subtly into an often-painful surrealism that we turn back to double-check what came over us. One of Svoboda's most valuable assets is a rambling, vivid imagination which, when not held in check by myth and legend, is fully original. (June)