cover image Suggest Paradise

Suggest Paradise

Ray Gonzalez. Univ. of New Mexico, $18.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-0-8263-6450-0

Gonzalez (Feel Puma) interrogates history, modern society, grief, and migration in his nuanced latest. “I am here,” he writes, “and I want to listen.” These poems are a testament to such listening, which allows for recognition of “the river [that] will outlast your// lifting hands.” Gonzalez juxtaposes ordinary lives with moments in history and stellar, imaginative descriptions of surrounding nature that witnesses human activity. The poems are rich with tender, near-magical moments: “the honeysuckle dripping/ the same water as the sea,” and, in snowy scene, a body frozen “in a profile that allows for grace.” In a poem about a mass-shooting at the El Paso, Tex., Walmart, Gonzalez recognizes “a Chicago man who devotes his life/ to making wooden crosses for mass-/ killing victims all over the country.” Applied to the ruins and painful realities of modern society, Gonzalez’s poetic eye offers a transcendent vision that is both fine-tuned to the particular and aware of the universal. These are graceful, powerful poems. (Feb.)