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Stranger in Town by Cedar Sigo

What happens when grace is embodied with just a hint of social brutality, mixed with the charm of fluid yet solid beauty, and the resulting form embraces art as style for living? There’s nothing to ponder about after reading Cedar Sigo’s poems. As the title poem attests, it is “Life in/unbridled/collapse” and though “there are other lost men,” the poet is not so fully among them that he isn’t willing to admit “I am sorry I said/he was/already high”; after all, they “got so high together” there’s no one to blame. This isn’t to suggest that there is any simplistic narrative drive behind these poems. The true pleasure to be attained in reading them is found in the handling of form, subtle shifts from line to line: “…my first/walk through/the greatest/marco/polo/single file/best roulette/There’s a bad moon/on the rise…” (“Stranger in Town”). The shame is that with the limited space available here there isn’t room to give a true sense of the staggered appearance of lines: “I shall be made/thy music/since I shut the doors/on this/holy room/just got a big fine/leather chair/& a copy of FORTUNE” (“Daybreak Star”). My favorite page in this collection consists of nothing more than a list of names: “Diahnne Abbott/Diahann Carroll/Lenore Kandel/Amanda Lepore/Eve Arden/Helen Adam/Bambi Lake/Georgia George/Anne McGuire/Ann Peebles/Esther Phillips/Angie Stone/Denise Hale/Talia Shire.” Indeed, the lasting effect of reading Stranger in Town is that “I wish I could/have it with me now” (“Poem”). It’s a pleasure to curl up with and be challenged by, driven to push one’s living further. In this new century, there is without doubt further territory for poetry to enter into, and Sigo embraces what is currently available and holds out an offering for the future: “turn boxes/to blood/flooded most/with wires” (“Blind Embossed”) and “…the dream/poem/of Joanne & I/out shopping…” (“Greensleeves”). Capping off the exquisite visual appeal of this low-run (150) edition is a terrific color collage cover by New York City-based artist, Will Yackulic. The wonder remains paramount.