cover image Meadowlands


Louise Glueck / Author, Louise Gluck / Author Ecco $22 (0p) IS

Gluck's seventh collection (following The Wild Iris, 1993's Pulitzer winner) interleaves vignettes of the Odyssey and a distressed modern marriage. Grimly serious parables, amusing but disquieting spousal conversations and insightful commentaries written in the voice of Telemachus, Odysseus's son, season the 46 poems. Assessing his parents' lives, Telemachus observes, ""heartbreaking, but also/ insane. Also/ very funny."" In ""Anniversary,"" Gluck captures the particular cruelty made possible by intimacy: ""Someone should teach you how to act in bed./ ...Look what you did--/ you made the cat move."" In another, the depths of marital alienation are captured by a woman who weeps, holding a bag of garbage in an unlit garage at midnight: "" this the way the heart/ behaves when it grieves: it wants to be alone with the garbage?"" Despite humor, there is little joy. Gluck sees, in daily life as in Odysseus's heroic one, the ""unanswerable/ affliction of the human heart: how to divide/ the world's beauty into acceptable/ and unacceptable loves."" These compressed and tightly focused poems are organized into a short collection of exceptional punch. (Apr.)