Laundromats, oddball flora, a toy tomahawk, "many falling rats," a "robotroid girlfriend" and a series of twice-told childhood stories distinguish the determinedly eccentric, sometimes winning poems in Rohrer's second volume. Like his sometime models Charles Simic and James Tate, Rohrer (A Hummock in the Malookas) seeks out surreally menacing objects, finding a disturbing, even deceptive emptiness amid his seemingly ordinary "brick houses" and heterosexual couples, making accomplished phrases to match their disorientations: "In the middle garden is the secret wedding," he says, "that hides always under the other one/ and under the shiny things of the other one." A giddy suspicion like that of schoolchildren's pranks sometimes matches, and sometimes overwhelms, the poems' attempts at offhand social critique; topics include male sexual anxiety and postmodern self-consciousness à la Dave Eggers: "No man is an island. Also, no one is interested/ in excessive indeterminacy." Rohrer's hip titles ("Alternatives to Pain"; "Starfish Waving to Me from the Sand") and tricky allusions (Ashbery, Longfellow, William Blake, Woody Allen) can over-determine the poems they introduce, but their facility and charm usually step in and smooth things over. (May)
Forecast: One of the poetry editors of
Fence, onetime acting managing director of the Poetry Society of America and currently publicity/events director at the Academy of American Poets, Rohrer has deep roots in the po-biz, which will distinguish him from his contemporaries.