cover image Riddles, Etc.

Riddles, Etc.

Geoffrey Hilsabeck. The Song Cave, $17.95 trade paper (64p) ISBN 978-0-9988290-1-2

In this clever and wonder-filled debut, Hilsabeck revels in being perplexed by the world, the self, and the novelty of existence, inviting readers to share in that awed confusion through riddles and short bursts of lyricism. It is a joyful experience, even as Hilsabeck celebrates the mundane: “Thank you grass/ for the grass/ which says what it knows and nothing more.” He also exhibits strong musicality: “Ruin in her rickety chariot rattled the rabbit warren.” The eponymous riddles include elements of the ominously strange (“Lay down again among murderers/ then get up and put these on”) as well as the fantastically heroic (“It’s the thing that killed the clumsy giant/ God’s thing for God’s king”). Hilsabeck flits through a seemingly endless catalogue of subjects, including the peculiarities of animal and human bodies, suffering and joy, and creation and death. A key at the end of the collection provides answers for the riddles, though reading through without flipping back allows for better immersion into Hilsabeck’s odd little creation. Unfortunately, the collection is so short that it seems somewhat abridged. In a moment of self-awareness, the poet addresses the reader, “Do you have a metaphysics? You have to have a metaphysics.” Hilsabeck’s book ends just as it’s picking up steam, but readers looking for a novel take on metaphysics may find it a treat. (Nov.)