cover image Phantom Camera

Phantom Camera

Jaswinder Bolina. New Issues (SPD, dist.), $15 (96p) ISBN 978-1-936970-13-1

As full of candor and ontological inquiry as they are of verve, panache, and wit, the poems in Bolina’s second collection stretch and dilate, in order to, as the author puts it, “feel so attached—like a ligament—to the whole shebang of human experience.” These poems include subject matter of all kinds, and to read them can feel like being led through the chaos of contemporary life by a warm yet incisive mind. Here, “the corpus [is] downing its espresso/ and everything bagel with cream cheese in route to the office park/ of non existence”; “bankers are/ offing themselves now in morning again… the republic fretting as if it’s the first republic, the first dark hour”; and “we believe in God the way the blind must believe in color.” Preoccupied with performance, this voice could not be called intimate so much as wildly forthcoming. Bolina reveals a penchant for comedic and lyric riffing as well as plainspokenness, as in “Make Believe,” in which the speaker’s daughter has first perceived that a woodpile was once a tree: “It’s in this precise moment in America that I realize this acquainting… with death is the entire task of her growing older… I say,/ I’m sorry life is too much, my love, I’m sorry my love, it isn’t enough.” (Apr.)