Hot Llamas Thirsting for Glacial Omens

Peter Richards, Noelle Kocot, and Ben Doyle write a new verse in the poetry of the American avant-garde

Amniotic installations. Creative new packing materials
made from odorless molds. Broken water. Floating
deaf and helpless between two ridiculous saline tits.
God's posh silver sterile grave, in a cryogenic tube--
In Case of Emergency Break Glass.

And then I see a man running before a vine of ivy lights,
a child in his arms. I see rows of dull bells shift their weight
silently so far in the chapel's open-air attic

& I remember, hey

(Top) Pigeon English: Noelle Kocot and her friend take poetic flights of fancy. (Bottom) Poor Richards's almanac: Oubliette author Peter Richards.
(Top) Pigeon English: Noelle Kocot and her friend take poetic flights of fancy. (Bottom) Poor Richards's almanac: Oubliette author Peter Richards.

I read this "hey" not as slackerly indifference but as the unfiltered wonder of a real person, a sudden remembering that, yes, the miraculous can happen in this bumper-sticker culture that commodifies even birth and death. So while Radio, Radio broadcasts lots of contemporary noise, keeping us tuned in is that buried melody called empathy.

"Hush I think now I may/be the future...," utters another of Doyle's poems, and if you'd like a glimpse of what's to come in poetry, each of these new volumes will take you there. Emerging now after the Language wave is a sizable phalanx of new American poets with adventurous and generous visions. They're published almost entirely by independent and university presses, and by plucky little magazines like Fence, Spinning Jenny, and Volt. They have no premeditated collective agenda, and many are their modes. But they do have a way of working in what Salamun calls that "inscrutable" place where poems can be inviting yet thoroughly surprising.

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