cover image The Atlantic House

The Atlantic House

Regan Good. Harry Tankoos (SPD, dist.), $17 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-934639-08-5

Long-awaited in some quarters, Good’s big—yet concise—book burns with a rare intensity, its balanced monostichs and couplets merging panoramic images with cries from the heart and unorthodox prayers. Seashores and beaches, horses and riders, gardens and other potentially allegorical scenes familiar since antiquity give up, for Good, what sound like brand-new secrets. When Good watches the sea, black horses emerge, “their furred fetlocks spiked and stiff with mud.” When she considers a rose, she finds “All caverns and fleshy sweeps: a universe of fans.// The whorl of its configuration knit tightly to its vortex-nub”; in another garden poem, “Hammer Pounding the Summer,” she declares herself “I, the wasted music of the flower, hovering above the stalk.” Autobiography pops in (as in an especially affecting poem about her parents’ ashes), as do modern props (a carousel, a piano), but the dominant passages belong to a nearly timeless and expressively resonant realm. Good shows that a poet can be absolutely Romantic and remain absolutely contemporary, relaying her unapologetic advice: “The sun said: Be alive in excellence/ as you walk through this sun-drenched rain.// Be proud, proud horse, tripping through your glossy gaits.” (Jan.)