cover image Gold Cure

Gold Cure

Ted Mathys. Coffee House, $16.95 ISBN 978-1-56689-581-1

The elegiac 4th collection from Mathys (Null Set) draws on the associative powers of gold: fake cures, busted boom towns, fracking sites, and goldfish (live and edible). Divided into five sections, “El Dorado” riffs on Illinois’s “City of Daffodils” (“Go, Big Gold”), layering the place with images: “FREE GOLD// estimates at the local pawnshop... I arrive in Eldorado, downstate Illinois.” “Key to the Kingdom,” a long poem in sections, is especially powerful—a driving narrative with glints of rhyme that moves a mythic female protagonist in Florida through political awakening as rampant police violence overwhelms her. Other poems feature the absurdity of family life: a daughter’s kindergarten “family project” is to build a leprechaun trap, for which “success requires manipulation/ of corrupted little men/ through acts of imagination.” The sonnet sequence “Shale Plays” touches on the largest natural gas shale deposits in the U.S. In these imaginative and linguistically impressive political poems, Mathys excavates with ironic wit while addressing untapped American fears. (Sept.)