cover image Dregs


Cynthia Cruz. Four Way, $15.95 trade paper (68p) ISBN 978-1-945588-18-1

Cruz (How the End Begins) showcases her trademark spare palette and haptic focus in a brief, satisfying fifth collection that hews close to the anxious, delirious mood of its predecessor. These poems capture the “Underwater spit of the mind’s/ Sweet unraveling” and read something akin to a transcript of an ethereal voice-over for a nonlinear film. Against a haunting white backdrop, a handful of colors produce much symbolic heft: for example, a sorrowful, infinite blue; a rousing, desirous red; and a deceptive, alluring gold. Composed almost entirely in short-lined couplets, the poems flit between scenes of or reflections on loss and longing. In one of the few places where Cruz strays from couplets, the speaker asks, “What am I looking for/ In this desert, this/ Dead city?” Readers may ask something similar, given the paucity of narrative trappings amid what are predominantly still lifes. But immediacy of sensation takes precedence over story. Cruz is notable for delectable descriptions of textures, and her soft, plush surfaces counterbalance a proliferation of glass. Relatedly, the placidity of the poems—their “incessant hum”—feels fleeting, as if it could shatter at any moment. Such an eruption never arrives, and Cruz leaves her audience tense with anticipation to the end, ensconced within an “incoherent dream/ Being played on a record.” (Oct.)