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Ron Padgett. Coffee House, $16.95 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-56689-655-9

New York School poet Padgett (Encore with Philosophy and Rectangle) returns with a breezy and nostalgic collection reflecting on the quotidian and the momentous. Some poems are made up of a dozen or so short lines, while others are meandering and engaging prose poems. The poet’s trademark humor is ubiquitous, as in the long poem “I’ll Get It,” in which he reflects on Napoleon: “And the French erected a huge monument to house his coffin, inside of which they placed that little piece of shit.” Some of his most inspired lines address his love for his wife: “It’s a very great pleasure to walk with you in November, our bodies sleepy in the clarity falling across the city and to feel a kiss arrive from a height of five feet two.” Elsewhere, he wistfully explores the road not taken, recalling, for instance, when he had planned to write a book on the history of shadow puppets. However, moments riffing on “the Eskimo man” living in igloos demonstrates an unfortunate and dated lack of cultural awareness. Though it’s not his best effort, Padgett remains charmingly whimsical, and the more heartfelt entries are a testament to his status as one of the great living American poets. (Nov.)