“Soul Data is rarely compounded—of wit and music, surface elegance and
intellectual depth, quirk and quandary. Its sensual intelligence is on
high alert, and the sheer unsheerness of its language—all its densities
and textures—is a linguiphiliacal delight. Unmistakeably American (the
poetry’s occasions and its cadences alike serve for signature) it has
the jinx-meister’s humors about it. There’s a dark streak, too, an eye
for the natural indifferences that border the spotlit human heats. A
fine rhetorical savvy, in a mind inclined to the chillier depths: among
poetic gifts these days it’s an uncommon conjunction, a gift of
mysteries, like the sight (across a night pond’s surface) of bright-blue
shooting star: one hopes the other humans get to see it.” —Heather
South of Spokane Street, a gear works
turns its teeth—shadows in a cavern,
through the cycles of a drop-forge piston,
heft themselves and recoil in a dark
rain of sparks, the echo off the blocks—
pa-tang!—arriving late, repeats itself again,
a ceaseless, a remorseless hammering home,
a point made and lost in the patterns of work.
Across the street, a hunkered stretch of houses,
swing sets and cyclone fencing, a clatch of cars.
The agent shrugs—”It’s zoned Residential/
Light Industrial”—pa-tong! A lunatic fringe
of gladiolus fronts the walkways and the rows
of empty rooms we roll by at low idle.
Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry. Heather McHugh, judge.