Is this the most beautiful book ever written on Texas? I haven’t read enough of the others to say. But the beauty here is brimming, stark, almost at times pounding, like the Texas sun that batters down in so many of the poems. John Poch hammers out beauty on an anvil.
I’ve been following Poch since his collection Dolls. He just keeps getting stronger. In Texases, he shows himself master of the poetic non sequitur—a taut movement of misprisions that don’t let one go. This is not just a matter of striking images and mellifluous language; we have rather sustained tension, mental wrestling.
How many books begin with lines like these:
Imagine something lifeless as a road
even makes meat for the crooked crow
or a necessary perpendicular walk on the caprock
without barbed wire might have made a man
a man from the expanse. And that man post-holing
could feel freedom’s labor in his molars—
could see the cedar post would one day boast a meadowlark
like a trophy of Western flight.
So again: Is this the most beautiful book ever written on Texas? If you’ve a stronger contender, let me know in the comments.
John Poch’s Texases at Amazon.
Check out A Taipei Mutt. More bark, nastier bite.