America’s cities embody some of the central paradoxes involved with modern American life and with human existence: poverty in the midst of plenty; a type of loneliness that is intensified by a crowd; dirty brick smokestacks and disused factories that are nonetheless seen as beautiful. Many of these poems inhabit this paradox, especially where people are involved. “The only madness is loneliness,” wrote the Irish poet John Montague. He was echoing Matthew Arnold’s sentiment on the same matter: “The only sanity lies in those brief, ironic moments of tenderness shared between two people.” Men as Trees Walking dives into this particular strain of madness that afflicts people in cities: exploring it, teasing out the paradoxes, and probing its secrets. Yet, there is a certain beauty in a cityscape, even an abandoned and dilapidated one. Because the underlying element of life is paradox, these poems search for, and find, the beauty—something redemptive, something reassuringly human—in empty lots, in burning gasfields, on crosstown buses, and on desert battlefields.