cover image The Last Usable Hour

The Last Usable Hour

Deborah Landau. Copper Canyon (Consortium, dist.), $15 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-55659-334-5

The poems of Landau's stunning second collection are dark, urgent, sexy, deeply sad, and, above all, powerful. Grouped into four sequences whose titles%E2%80%94"All Else Fails," "Blue Dark," "Someone" and "Welcome to the Future"%E2%80%94are as haunting as they are indicative of the psychic situation in which the book locates itself; these poems are spoken by a woman on the verge of letting go, giving up, fading away. The poems place us in a dark "new york/ city of hidden interiors" where the poems' speaker says to a lover (most likely imaginary), "dear someone I put a shimmer on for you/ tonight I am all sequins all lies// for you I've slit my skirt/ made a neckhole of longing." Real or not, this affair is dangerous, opening a pit of self-hate, though Landau's abandon is thrilling in the way danger always is: "dear someone," a later poems says, "thanks for the dream/ you leave a deep blue crease/ in the center of my day." Their speaker isn't sure where these very private verses%E2%80%94or perhaps confessions%E2%80%94are leading, but she knows she won't be coming back: "I'd say my name to him/ as we crossed the Triboro// I'd say it softly the way he likes it// it would be the last time/ I'd introduce myself that way." (July)