cover image Chord


Rick Barot. Sarabande (Consortium, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-941411-03-2

Barot (Want) demonstrates his mastery of image throughout this collection of meditative, personal poems in which language is a boat that "cuts the water, like scissors/ into fabric." At his best, Barot seamlessly weaves history, image, and etymology in ways that offer the reader new eyes to see language and the world it describes. In one poem, gardens become maps to explore the various incarnations of colonization, specifically the story of the speaker's grandmother and the Spanish friar who "fucked her." Barot's poems transfix and transform through his remarkable ability to pack and unpack narratives within the space of an image: "the bird on the fence" takes on a brother and sister's lifelong relationship; "the brown refrigerator" acts as a metaphor for how memory becomes "tied to its embodiment" for a "couple whose baby died." In the multipart love poem "Triptych," the speaker asks for stories that are "the raveling and unraveling/ of years" because he wants "no ending," and none is delivered to the reader. Barot's wonderful third collection presents the "mind going/ over and over things, not knowing what to do/ with the world, but to turn it into something else." [em](July) [/em]