Phrase Book by Jo Shapcott

I read this book the first time in my early 20’s and it was nice to reread it. Shapcott has some moments of wonderful humor in her poems, like a series in the voice of a cow with mad cow disease. There are plays on perspective and an extended poem in the style of Rilke, which captures Rilke’s gorgeous meditative pacing. There are love poems and poems in the voice on Tom and Jerry, Marlon Brando, and Superman. Definitely a fun and short read. (I’m rereading an older book, so the options for buying aren’t great. You can search for a used copy and find a few floating around, or check the liberary.)

From “The Windows: after Rilke”

I think I want you to save me from love / but then it arrives here too / in the wrong mood, beating / against my forehead with wings.

From “The Mad Cow Talks Back”

There are wonderful holes in my brain / through which ideas from outside can travel / at top speed and through which voices, / sometimes whole people, speak to me / about the universe. You need this spongy / generosity to let the others in.

From “Goat”

. . . I could have eaten the world / and closed my eyes to nibble at the high / sweet leaves against the sunset. I tasted / that old sun and the few dark clouds / and some tall buildings far away in the next town.