For Want of Water: And Other Poems

Beacon. Oct. 2017. 120p. ISBN 9780807027851. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780807027868. POETRY
In this urgent and lyrically astute new compilation, Philippines-born Pimentel, winner of the American Book Award for Insides She Swallowed, writes about the huge divide between El Paso, TX, and murder-slicked, drug war-ravaged Juárez directly across the Rio Grande. Accomplished poet that she is, Pimentel does not offer reportage but leaps from a beginning poem, "If I Die in Juárez" ("The violins in our home are emptied/ of sound") to meditations on male violence, female vulnerability, and desert-driven thirst that touch fiercely if impressionistically on the topic. "House of her body, animal in grief" says Pimentel in a fine, multipaneled portrait of her mother, who appears elsewhere as a bride awaiting a goat's sacrifice at her wedding. In other poems, a couple trembles on the brink, Gustav Klimt's The Kiss appears less than tender, and, in the title piece, a boy trudging across the sands cannot waste bodily fluid in tears.
VERDICT Affecting and well wrought; Pimentel is a poet to watch.

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