cover image Mystery Train

Mystery Train

David Wojahn / Author University of Pittsburgh Press $0 (85p)

In the opening poem of this highly accomplished and daring collection, the speaker is called upon by a deaf friend to record a mystifying Buddhist ceremony: `` Write this down , he scrawls, something must be made of this. '' Indeed, in the poems that follow, Wojahn ( Icehouse Lights ) attempts to ``resurrect'' both his personal and the readers' collective past and infuse these with meaning. At the center of the book is a commanding sequence of 35 poems that interweave historical incidents with real and imagined episodes in the lives of legendary rock 'n' roll figures to recreate the zeitgeist of the last four decades of popular American culture. But what we're finally left with, Wojahn suggests, is ``page after page / of undecipherable description'' and a ``fading'' past: ``And you try to remember what it is that you believed in . . . / You wait. You watch until it's gone.'' As in his earlier works, Wojahn proves himself a master of the narrative poem, extending his range here with expertly fashioned dramatic monologues and quirky, rhythmic sonnets. (June)