Poet's Choice

By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, March 26, 2006

What might poetry have in common with NASCAR? The appeal of speed. And since the "SC" in that acronym stands for "Stock Car," we can add the appeal of speed as a challenge met by ordinary means -- the stock material, though applied and transformed with extraordinary skills and resources.

David Rivard's marvelous new book, Sugartown , moves through familiar material, like the way a good mood and a good memory can make life seem rich and even death nearly acceptable.

Rivard's poems move through such subject matter with an exhilarating, smart pace of association and evocation. The speed of mind, compressing details and emotions, covering the maximum distance in the least time, gives this writing its thrill:

A Real, Right Thing

Like a green ludicrous tow truck

with yellow stripes & naked chrome bulldog

atop the hood, my pleasure's obvious

watchful wary arrogant & pure

the smell of warm December early the sixth

day the city men come to the park

to gather leaves half-disintegrated

already compost, that smell

there for the asking, those leaves

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