From the first poem ("My Husband Discovers Poetry," in which her husband, who doesn't read poetry, finds a poem she has written in revenge for his lack of interest) to the last ("Leaving in Pieces", in which her husband goes bald and she leaves him for a Labrador retriever with thick fur), this collection is a wonderful introduction to Diane Lockward's work. There's a righteous anger burning through these funny, sharp narratives which will entertain and devastate those new to poetry and long-time readers alike.
I keep going back to that first poem - reading, rereading, re-rereading - days after I read through this collection the first time. Other favourites are "The Best Words," in which the poet contends the best words are those which "sound obscene but aren't" ("Cockatiel, cockatoo--words with wings. / The hoarfrost of winter, lure of a crappie, / handful of nuts, kumquat, lavender crystals of kunzite, / the titillation of shiftless and schist, the bark and bite / of shittimwood, music of sextillion and cockleshells."), and "The Missing Wife," a response to a bumper sticker the poet saw which read "Wife and dog missing. Reward for the dog." ("Time passed. They came and went as they pleased, / chased sticks when they felt like chasing sticks, / dug holes in what they came to regard / as their own backyard. They unlearned / how to roll over and play dead.")
Lockward selected poems from each of her three books, Eve's Red Dress
, What Feeds Us
and Temptation by Water
, to make up this small, tight, powerful chapbook, so people who already own her books won't find anything new here, though die-hard fans may find it worth picking up for her endnote with its thorough detailing of the history of the poems.