This could be called a book of odes, of praise songs, of quests punctuated with wry asides. Of poems saying not what the poet starts out to say, but what the poems say instead. Take the introductory poem, “When It’s Done Right,” the play on Mary Oliver’s dictum that “happiness, // when it’s done right, / is a kind of holiness.” This poet of worship has “enraged / with joy” the “flies and chiggers” that leave “welts on ankles.” He tames the “lunging dragon” of snowmelt on the mountain to “a kitten in a necktie.” He compares the “cough of a tractor engine” to the “plaintive caw of raven,” and proclaims the “dull day ahead / free of usefulness,” all to get at something important, something portentous. Which, when he gets down to it, has been “happily forgotten.” Instead, the poem has already said what it needed to say. This kind of happiness, the giving-up of poetry to its own holiness (salted with a little blasphemy) is what keeps us reading.
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