These poems evoke complicated familial and cultural lineages that are inescapably filled with violence and decay. The speaker at times diminishes his own memories about the past: “I am the child whose thoughts I had a certain age” while, in another poem, we learn more about what the speaker has suppressed: “I never think much about that. . . . He did push me down the stairs. . .”
The poems enact a sense of restlessness, of high-speed chases, traversing both physical and psychological landscapes, and taking the reader into a world where “Hope Street” can exist alongside prisons, cellars, and empty windows. People and their environments impose themselves on each other and the poems never allow for easy conclusions as to which force is more destructive. Judson’s muscular language pays attention to the minutiae we take for granted, from upturned buckets and dabs of jelly, to “an older man pumping gas into a tiny blue car.” While commanding its own careful rhythms, the poems invite readers to forget simplistic distinctions between prose and verse, opting instead for a form that is malleable, seemingly chaotic and improvisatory yet methodical and deliberate. Here, the world is often rendered as an uneasy place where an inmate’s ingenuity reveals the lack of humanity afforded to him, where cattle die of blood lost to mosquitoes, and where “all of us without sin” are reminded that “we are all being driven into time.”
Esther Lee received her MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University and served as Editor-in-Chief for Indiana Review. She has been awarded the Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize and 2009 Utah Writer’s Contest Award for Poetry, as well as nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and AWP Intro Journals Project. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing/Literature at the University of Utah and is working on her second book.
Note: Don Judson’s poems will appear in landscape format to preserve their formatting. [End Page 205]