cover image The Intangibles

The Intangibles

Elaine Equi. Coffee House, $16.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-56689-564-4

“I write because certain combinations of words really are magical,” Equi explains in her enchanting 14th collection. Her signature quirkiness and alien perspectives on the quotidian (including T-shirts, rhubarb and radishes, and poems built from the “invisible architecture” of scents) make appearances, and, as in previous volumes, many of these poems are written in response to modern technology: “Once upon a time, everything was not/ connected to everything else... People knew too/ how to inhabit a moment,/ even while daydreaming,/ all the way to the far edges.” “Deep in the Rectangular Forest” offers a slightly ominous look at post-internet, post-social-media behavior and the role individuals play in this technological habitat: “we pollinated the mostly mediocre content/ with an innocuous brand of wit.// Left to our own devices, we’d eavesdrop/ on conversations around the world./ If something was unpleasant, we deleted it.” These poems suggest people should enjoy the fun of language while it lasts, before it’s “ground to numeric sand” and “the rabbit/ of the alphabet/ drops back/ into the void/ of the black hat.” Like her “Monogrammed Aspirin”—in which E is for both Excedrin and Elaine—Equi’s poems are easy-to-swallow capsules, so filled with ideas that, occasionally, they feel curtailed, as though they could have gone on longer. (Nov.)