cover image As If It Matters

As If It Matters

Eamon Grennan. Graywolf Press, $19 (96pp) ISBN 978-1-55597-154-0

At their best these competently executed poems record the naturalist's eye as it takes in fragments of the organic world. In the opening poem the fluttering hands of two old men recall ``the way painted monarchs stop / in the sun and stand, stunned, / in pure silence . . . .'' The precise image causes the reader not only to envision the old men but also to think again about the irregular movement of those autumn butterflies. Much of the collection is set in the country, with sheep and frogs, ``gruel-colored'' light and the poet gathering mussels in his Wellingtons. Nature is synchronized with domestic drama, the poet's love for the woman who bears his child, separation from his older children and his toddler's innocent play. Finally, this seems rather facile. The poet thinks about his friend who has been chopping wood, `` . . . this violent concentrated action / asserting ourselves to ourselves, the way we stand / and flail our way to freedom of a sort,'' a dated conception of freedom in our chaotic physical universe, which teaches the contradictory and conditional nature of action. Technically the poems, broken into stanzas of free verse, are also conventional. Grennan wrote What Light There Is. (Mar.)