The New Poetry


Ange Mlinko’s newly published second book, Starred Wire (Coffee House Press), was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The poems have the grace to live as variously as possible; they occasionally share a swift and dreamy motion through almost familiar landscapes that eventually coalesce, not into a picturesque scene but into a sharp, complex feeling: a melancholy bordered by delight and mortality, catching the transition between innocent, sheltered playfulness and a darker, more adult knowledge.

Bon Nuit, Bunny

Bon nuit, bunny. They aren’t going to take you home: they’re going to free you.

. . . Granaries hang under the deck-beams clustered with twitterers.

Snow drips, a doll waterfall; the lake’s all iced, the dam iced,

The ice by the islet’s speakered with reeds.

I can’t do anything with these ladybugs clinging to my gams.

. . . The pastor’s children gambol like lambs across the table legs,

Candles aglow, agog, agnostic. Logs are crossed in the fireplace.

The casserole is put out on the porch to freeze.

They invite me to sniff the new freesia body bath set.

. . . The subdivisions age: a diffident introvert arises from the system,

And pretends to live elsewhere—in a wish, maybe.

Dressed as a robin, tussling with flamboyance.

Some crutch, that cloud. I build a questionnaire: What’s the moon eliding?

. . . Then one begins to narrate to oneself, in every adverb:

Ruefully, wistfully, coolly, bravely. In February,

With witch hazel, and the long days hatching vaccines.

. . . And now for the bar of light under the wild pines, bunny.

. . . And now for the slumber of driving.