cover image The Place One Is

The Place One Is

Martha Ronk. Omnidawn, $17.95 trade paper (64p) ISBN 978-1-63243-103-5

The prophetic 12th book from Ronk (Silences) provides a portrait of eco-apocalypse. The first half focuses on the threatened natural landscapes of Northern California, the ravages of climate change, and the legacy of settler colonialism against the Wiyot people of Humboldt Bay, (“Whose scavenged past do we walk on?” Ronk asks). Whirring with closely studied observations and layered lyric reflections of natural and made-made worlds, these poems ask the reader to “give in” to what Ronk calls “place-time,” a “third// bifurcated sense of in-between, a position re-evaluating/ itself.” From this place, the fullness and vulnerability of our world can be considered. “It all comes full at me at the edges––” she writes, “reeds, rushes, sedges, hodgepodge tilted and crosshatched... dandelions, plastic cups, weedy, tossed-aside, ever-present Queen Anne’s lace... the thin backbone of a county.” The second half of the book is situated in scorching Los Angeles, where the homeless sleep in cardboard houses while “gentrification [serves] up exquisite/ sandwiches on tiny tables.” Ronk shows that all bodies—human, water, land, and politic—are interconnected, asking “what place might humans have in the aftermath.” These unflinching poems look hard a humanity’s future. (Apr.)