Monday, January 9, 2012

The Last Decent Jukebox in America by Doug Cox

LS&S Press, 2011. Sometimes poems call on their ancestors, sometimes they call them out. Doug Cox's poems do both, singing the praises of muses--family, musicians, other poets--while refraining from being too starry-eyed. Those muses, after all, are human, too, with flaws and failings that Cox's poems refuse to overlook; the narrators in these poems are like the friend you can trust to tell you (kindly) when you're being a jerk.

But the reason you should read it? Because these poems will become muses, too. Cox's poems dive into raucous punk rock benders, the unwieldy weight of loss, and insufferable injustices, wrapping them in received forms (ghazals, sonnets, villanelles) that try to give shape to, make manageable life's enormities. Still, sound escapes. When read aloud, the poems hum low, almost inaudible notes. They emit the hard crack of static. They howl with feedback. They fill you with song until you've got no choice but to bust out a poem of your own.

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