Today in the Taxi

Sean Singer. Tupelo, $18.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-946482-69-3

The exquisite third collection from Singer (Honey & Smoke) vibrates with the energy of New York City and its itinerant denizens. A taxi driver from 2014 to 2020, Singer captures the complexities of the job in prose poems that document the trips the driver and his passengers take together. In one poem, a mother leaves her baby in the backseat while she retrieves a forgotten item from her apartment, prompting the driver to reflect, "I was nervous. Some people live without contradiction. I remained calm though the situation was beyond the job description." Descriptions of the city blur reality with the imagination: "The air moved across the miles bearlike in the atmosphere; the pale-cherry tissue of darkness and the little alleys on make-believe streets. From there you can feel the plasma of waves." At times, the act of driving becomes a process of merging with the vehicle itself: "We're made of steel and rubber. We only say what is absolutely necessary and try to get many avenues of solid greens." Full of life and wisdom, this generous collection explores the semiprivate, semipublic transactions and negotiations that get individuals from here to there. (Apr.)