cover image Animal Days

Animal Days

Joshua Beckman. Wave, $18 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-95026-809-2

Beckman (The Inside of an Apple) returns with a collection preoccupied with observation and self-understanding. These six long poems center on the details of nature, balancing a traditional pastoral with harsher images of “toxic air,” “chrome soup fog,” blood, and parasites. The short lines of Beckman’s wave-like form create smaller phrases whose evocative meanings complicate, or even diverge from the direction of the sentence as a whole: “while I/ like an enormous / pillow of much/ on the other hand/ seem to be moving/ all the time.” An unidentified physical pain or syndrome affects the speaker, producing a “sick seeming fever,” and the sensation that their “still chipped hands become poisoned.... Everything I touched caused me pain.” This more visceral engagement produces Beckman’s most complex images, as when he describes “blood shed skin/ and the hair/ that filled my pocket/ and the fat that made/ my mind a thing.” Readers interested in the fragment as a form, or in the relationship of the body to perception will appreciate how Beckman unfolds and rearranges the physical phenomena he describes. (Jan.)