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Rick Barot, . . Sarabande, $13.95 (67pp) ISBN 978-1-932511-57-4

Often as vivid as it is grim, this second collection from Barot (The Darker Fall ) offers unrhymed, hard-edged lines that strain with the weight of yearning, elegy, lust and frustration about the difficulty of knowing the self. Scenes from Washington, D.C., Italy and the sea evoke a persistant, if vague, pain. Against that pain Barot’s stanzas and sequences promise only the reward of keen perception: “The coffee will come black inside its cup./ The bread will be made of something clean.” A ghazal adds the further consolation of eros, and the further pain of shame: “I am myself in lace, rubber things, oil.” The drive to immediacy, the tough, clear line, and the traces of what sounds like firsthand experience may remind some readers of Stanley Kunitz. Others may think of Lynda Hull’s chronicles of a difficult life. If the shadow of death falls over the whole collection, Barot at his best keeps up, as well, an accurate light from the visible, audible world: “the dusk with a pink plastic bag/ in the tines of a branch” (Feb.)