For Now

Copper Canyon. Jun. 2020. 86p. ISBN 9781556595790. pap. $16. poetry;.
In his ninth collection, National Book Award finalist Richardson (By the Numbers) focuses our attention on the overlooked minutiae of everyday life—flies, hummingbirds, beetles, the palm of the hand—and sees in their imagined inner lives correlatives to our own, discerning the invisible connective tissue among all things, as when he tells a humble paper clip “You must, since everything/ is like everything, also be like me.” His personifications can ring startlingly true. Houseflies rise from surfaces “as if they’d suddenly remembered,” and our palms “are faces/ with their eyes closed.” Richardson’s voice is modest, contemplative, and entranced with the subject at hand while at the same time conscious of the larger social climate (“I’ve searched/ the papers, but the things/ these days that pass unsaid/ are world-size”). Less engaging are his fragmentary pieces, aphorisms, and “ten-second essays.” While some aspire to the spare resonance of classic Asian poetry (“On your long/ gray hair, snow lasts/ a little longer”) others risk triviality (“Winter sunset —/ I put down groceries / to unlock the door”).
VERDICT In an anxious time, readers will find welcome consolation in Richardson’s poise and empathic relationship with the things of this small world.
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