cover image The Dance of No Hard Feelings

The Dance of No Hard Feelings

Mark Bibbins, . . Copper Canyon, $15 (97pp) ISBN 978-1-55659-292-8

“We still can't know/ anyone but we have a way of not minding not knowing,” says Lambda Award–winning poet Bibbins (Sky Lounge ) in the first poem of this second collection, which takes much of its subject matter and its attitude from life in George W. Bush's America, where “a drop/ of empathy sinks into/ a millionth word for shit/ said a million times.” These poems are made powerful by the bitter energy of a voice not silenced but made to sound ridiculous in a political culture in which disagreement with the government is unpatriotic. A series of poems called “Forcefield” seeks to take stock of and reconcile the damage America has done to itself: “we inch/ away from the windows// the bones// come falling/ down the chimney// the bones are still wet.” Other poems elliptically speak for heartbroken citizens: “I mean not to trivialize, but once/ we experienced it as agoraphobia—// real work getting out the door—/ and look what lay there: unreadings/ and misgivings.” The colossal long poem that concludes the book describes “The Devil You Don't,” who “was more often the tempted/ than the tempter.” Those who will feel themselves spoken for by these poems have been hungrily awaiting this book. (Sept.)