Review #55: ‘As Long As Trees Last’ by Hoa Nguyen

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  • COLDFRONT RATING: four
  • PUBLISHED BY: Wave Books, 2012
  • REVIEW BY: Timothy Liu

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This is a Book of Apocalypse both personal and collective, a collection of fractured lyrics that hear “the half-animal / half-unreal song in the leaves / of your gaze,” equally adept at channeling Dickinson for anachronistic commentary on Agent Orange (“The Zeroes—taught us—Phosphorous”) as at invoking the Mayan Lady Xoc to join us in the here and now: “Throw your hands into the air / one hand with curled fingers and / scabby news of interferingness / as the blocky body shifts / from right ribcage to ass jutting / out   Smelly meatballs   The / house has many teeth.” With an appetite for the erotic occult, these poems read like tarot spreads over which our raging Casandra-like High Priestess presides amidst endless wars, droughts, miscarriages, oil spills, but not without some cheer: “I am not dead yet / Ezra Pound in my D.C. / Charles Olson dream ‘It is / so much harder to be a poet now.’”

Disclosures: There’s nothing quite like Hoa Nguyen furnishing the banquet tables of Parnassus with chunks of sacrificial lamb.

Favorites: Rage Sonnet, I’m Stuck, Ridiculous Couplets, Intimate, Feather, The Problem, You Can Sample, Letting It In, The Heart, Oil Disaster Poem.

Read two poems by Nguyen at PEN.