POETRY

Come-Hither Honeycomb

Copper Canyon. Feb. 2021. 64p. ISBN 9781556596100. pap. $16. POETRY
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In her fifth collection, Belieu (Slant Six) weaves together poems about motherhood, therapy, relationships (including one that goes awry), and the changing female body. The book opens with the villanelle “Instructions for the Hostage” in which the repeating lines could describe memory itself: “You must accept the door is never shut…Though the hostage will remain, no matter what.” Though some of the poems riff on failure or sadness, Belieu also uses puns and everyday sayings to capture daily life, and her language varies throughout from slang to the sublime. In “Loser Bait,” for instance, she categorizes people thus: “Some of us/ are chum.// Some of us/ are the come-hither / honeycomb.” These poems continuously examine life, sometimes with reverence, sometimes with wry humor, as the poet offers an intelligent take on being a woman in the 21st century. The poet’s poet’s en point observations of the world are truly delightful, and not since Ann Sexton has a poet captured girlhood so well: “the girl/ she was then// confused, partly/ feral, like the outdoor/ cat you feed // when you remember.”
VERDICT The occasional poem could use some tightening, but this is a sterling collection that ends much too soon. Highly recommended.

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