The Now Dark Sky, Setting Us All On Fire by Robert Krut

The Now Dark Sky, Setting Us All On Fire, winner of this year’s Codhill Poetry Prize, opens with a quote by Vasko Popa, a Serbian poet with roots in Surrealism. It’s a perfect setting for Krut’s work, which itself carries a bit of Surrealism, using a playful style of words and imagery. The book also reminds me of Charles Simic’s writing, and the writing of contemporaries like Bradley Paul (more on him here and here) and Julia Beach Anderson (a name you’ll probably hear more from in the future). If you’re comfortable being unmoored and bobbing on a odd sea, this is a good book for you. Titles are great: “You Can’t Escape When You’ve Been Underwater All Along,” “Now, Breathe Fire,” and “You Are a Jellyfish, Ghost,” for example. The poems are just as fun. Buy here.

From “River Side, Rain Side, Fire Side”

You whispered a secret into my ear, and I spoke a piece of paper. / I have built a tower designed to reverse lightning back to the sky. / Your eyelashes pull toward the moon. / Night’s white pearl drowns the flames from your fingertips. / Danger isn’t a bomb, danger is a drip.

From “I’ll Be Your Keepsake”

You wrote a poem on the back of a cabinet door / but I can’t move to read it anymore. // Please, recite it by memory, / please. I want to remember its words, // even if I cannot move / to do so.

From “In the Trees, On the Road, Off the Highway”

The vanishing point of the road / ends in your open mouth, the pavement / the tonal concrete of your voice, / an endless song echoing past the forest. // A deer leaps in the woods, but in the trees, / far overhead, a great airborne animal / birthed when no one was watching, no one / but me, looking for you.