cover image You Must Remember This: Poems

You Must Remember This: Poems

Michael Bazzett. Milkweed (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-57131-474-1

Bazzett, a Minneapolis high school teacher, delivers a debut collection whose mercurial sensibility and loose-woven free verse place him somewhere between Robert Hass and Patricia Lockwood. His pages stand out, amid so many other mildly quirky or eccentric first books, because their verse comes closer than most to presenting real people in his imagined world. Strange events—part charm, part menace—take place throughout: postapocalyptic humans believe that “the point of existence/ was to gather things in concentric rings”; a couple decide to “settle their divorce in mime court”; clouds “made of human/ limbs and torsos” rain blood; a very old blind man predicts that “you will one day befriend an orangutan,” though when the orangutan shows up (in another poem) he turns out to be a robot who fathers an interspecies child. Fears of death and delightful velleities, intermittent distractions and persistent adulthood follow the poet around his sometimes cartoony world, where the mere sight of a “prison for the insane” prompts dreams of destructive rampages and ghostly escapes. Like Hass, he can veer into a confessional mode and then pull knowingly out. Yet his collection is never slowed down by self-consciousness: instead, it’s entertaining in its sadness, off-kilter, and defiantly hard to explain. [em](Nov.) [/em]