cover image Legible Heavens

Legible Heavens

H. L. Hix, . . Etruscan, $17.95 (89pp) ISBN 978-0-9797450-4-1

The latest from the prolific and ferociously intelligent Hix (Chromatic ) again offers long sequences, complicated allusions to older works and a tumultuous focus on sexual love. The long, breathless lines and run-on sentences all over “Star Chart for the Rainy Season” show the poet's wild self-reproach, prompted perhaps by the end of an affair or a marriage: “I regret nothing having done nothing worth regret nothing reckless ever/ having realized so little of my will.” The much longer “All the One-Eyed Boys in Town” strings together sonnet-sized units, each built around a small quote from another (usually contemporary) long poem (John Ashbery, Jim Harrison and Anne Carson all turn up), focused again on sexual love: “While the victims freed themselves/ from birds and their absences,/ my body learned that the tips/ of your fingers regulate/ hurricanes.” Hix grows more vivid, and easier to follow, in the third set, a 12-page tour de force of one-sentence poems (each beginning “If...” and including a “then” or “thus”) juxtaposing erotic longing with the satisfaction in the visible world: “wonder of sliced apple/ fed to me, dreamed storms, grass wet when I wake.” A quieter, concluding sequence about the life of Jesus offers fewer surprises, but may not weaken the overall force of this strange and fierce writer's seventh collection. (Nov.)