In This Room with Terry Lucas

I thoroughly enjoyed spending time this weekend with In This Room — a book of poems by Terry Lucas. Every poem churned with energy, imagery, and texture; eroticism, yearning, melancholy. I was particularly drawn to his series of poems about the Golden Gate Bridge, considering that iconic structure, keeping one eye in the present and one in the ancient past: “…surrogate stitch/In the continent’s deep wound….How many times have your waters parted, dissolving/Into nothing, then starting up again/In the life of this shorn planet?” And this: “the ocean rising//enough to reverse the river and flood the valley//with sponges, jellyfish, sea squirt, sharks….”

But this is no nature meditation. This book is populated with characters: a trucker father, a mentally ill mother, a would-be insurance salesman haunted by the deaths he convinces his clients to consider, a salesman of menswear welcoming his eager customers to “the maw of America.” I found myself haunted by a percolator from the poem “Midwatch”: “…midwatch/of my mother’s coffee pot,/stories that bubble up/the metal throat, sobbing their way/through the curved glass lid…”

The wind blows merciless through these poems, but there is humor and pathos and a mind helplessly observant to the world around him: “the last piece of pie slowly turning in the refrigerated darkness,” “the bridge’s vermilian lipstick smears,” the “half-chewed berries strewn like a broken rosary.” Gosh, this is good work, Terry.

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