The Lantern Room

Chloe Honum. Tupelo, $18.95 trade paper (60p) ISBN 978-1-946482-62-4

Sorrow and resilience converge in the sharp-eyed second book from Honum (Tulip Flame), rich with a lexicon for the inanimate and the restorative capacity of the imagination. Through Europe, Auckland, New England, Arkansas, and California, the narrator takes in the ethereal contours of her environments, from a woman’s shelter to a gas station, a psychiatric ward to a supermarket, a juvenile detention center to a Motel 6. Fluorescent lights have a malevolent gaze, horseflies commune to form a muddled moon, and alluding to Cummings, the rain has hands. A visitor in the mailbox (a praying mantis) avails himself as a “model of dignity,/ with its big green stillness, like a mind that will not be sent scuttling/ into the past.” Honum translates sensation through elemental expression, “the light is slippery. Everything/ hums,” accentuating the necessity “to go on naming, even if all I said to you/ this winter was snow, snow, snow.” She finds kinship with a luna moth, “Your enemies are bats, owls,/ and hornets. Mine are men/ who lunged at my life// in both fast and slow motion.” Rife with radiant conceits and brisk realism, these are memorable and rich poems. (Jan.)
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