cover image Last Sext

Last Sext

Melissa Broder. Tin House (Norton, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-941040-33-1

Readers familiar with poet and essayist Broder (Scarecrone) will recognize her comfort with working in abstraction, but in her fourth collection she pushes even further into some sort of primordial nothingness. Broder leaves behind sensations of a grounded location and body even as her poems grapple with fear, want, and existential darkness. In the universe of this collection, the ocean has strange powers, and dogs—“of stars and never devils”—are the only good creatures. Many of the poems address the second person with urgent and laconic commands to abandon the self: “Wreck my temporary wrists in the white of the sun,” she writes, and “Love me with immaculate feeling zero body.” Coursing through the book is a certain obsession with the actual refuse of real bodies. In one poem Bacchus plies a pubescent girl with a “vomiting serum,” and in another the speaker remarks on the possibility of defecating time itself. None of the poems offers hope or light to anyone, yet the “I” of these poems remains obsessed with momentum, speaking with a prophetic voice mumbling from space, unable to keep from wanting more from the cooling universe. Broder’s poems offer a postmodern twist on the confessional, and they push for action in the face of despair. (June)