cover image Daddy


Michael Montlack. NYQ Books, $18.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-63045-059-5

Montlack (Cool Limbo) complicates traditional notions of gender in this witty and tender second book. In “How to Mother Like a Man,” the speaker declares, “I like how the male seahorse gives/ birth, making it easier for the female/ exhausted from egg production,” and elsewhere, on masculinity, writes, “I learned its meaning from my mother.” In poems of elegy and evocation that explore coming-of-age as a gay man and an adopted child, Montlack’s investigation of family expands to include muses such as Stevie Nicks and Fire Island’s “Cherry Grove Carla,” a colorful personality who “still wears those signature yellow/ leg warmers with chunky platforms/ and micro-bikini, clunking along/ the boardwalk, humming classic Disco/ to the demure deer who trail her.” Montlack takes the reader from risqué nightclubs to rural Vermont (“the watering hole/ dotted with one-or-two hundred naked men”), and one speaker memorably describes “Dickorum,” which can manifest as “your boss messaging you—/ after seeing your Grindr profile one night—/ to ask if the monthly budget analysis is done.” There are also larger meditations on life, in which mortality is seen as “a slow recline/ into the landscape, soft clay/ ready for the cosmic kiln.” In this rewarding and accomplished collection, Montlack’s speakers arrive at profundity with a light touch. (Sept.)