cover image Indeed I Was Pleased with the World

Indeed I Was Pleased with the World

Mary Ruefle, . . Carnegie Mellon, $14.95 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-88748-467-4

The title of Ruefle's 10th collection of poetry is evocative of a divine pronouncement upon creation, yet the statement's past tense suggests an ominous future awaits. It is this beginning and end, in all its myriad tellings, that Ruefle interrogates, crafting parables/poems, remaking the world and reckoning with a coming apocalypse. The poems are unsparing in their indictments: “only a human being could hammer another one/ to a board,” she remarks in “Gathered on a Friday in the Hour of Jupiter” as a crowd assembles on a bright day, surrounded by sunflowers, to watch an execution. In “Speak, Zero,” she sharply observes: “From finches we take feathers for our hats/ From us they take hair for their nests,” suggesting the vast divide between humanity and nature, between the necessary and the frivolous. These poems grapple with despair and cruelty in a voice that is devotional, obsessive and quirky, as if the right words might offer a spell for salvation. As she writes in “Quick Note About the Think Source,” “Fortunately for us,/ the world is not that complicated:/ eventually, words like torpor and muddle / came into being, and then torpid, muddled/ accounts of the universe took over the populace.” (May)