cover image The Last Love Poem I Will Ever Write

The Last Love Poem I Will Ever Write

Gregory Orr. Norton, $26.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-324-00235-2

At first plainspoken and clever, Orr (River Inside the River) pushes conceits until they are revelatory in this deceptively simple book. These are mostly short poems with a handful of several-page odes (to “Nothing,” “Some Lyric Poets,” “the Country of Us,” and “Left-Handedness”) in which Orr works through issues of belief (even as he declares he is “done with God”), love (even as he declares through the title poem that he’s written the last one on that subject), and trauma (even as he spells out that the coincidence of “Two boys, my father and I// Barely in their teens,/ Killing two others they loved/ By accident” isn’t “credible”). In “Ode to Nothing,” Orr plays with the word nothing: “Nothing is the secret force/ At the heart of it all” and “The wisest among us/Always believed in/ Nothing,” until it becomes a comforting entity. The gruffness rife in these poems gives way to love, which entered when Orr was “broken/ All the way to the center.” In this collection, he offers silence and language as a way to heal. (June)