cover image Ghost Man on Second

Ghost Man on Second

Erica Reid. Autumn House, $17.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-63768-081-0

Reid’s cunning and mellifluous debut makes the song of the everyday—a quarrel, the human body, an Ohio landscape—come alive in full-throated harmony. Her language is often clever (“There is a tooth/ in the word indentured”) as well as aurally and visually dynamic (“Shake a man, when you can, by his ribs./ Time is a cracked egg on a slick skillet”). Much of the book’s drama revolves around family disputes and devastations. The result of a teenage pregnancy, Reid writes movingly about her complicated relationship with her mother, from being taught how to use tampons in a Burger King bathroom to a fissure decades later: “Now it’s been four years since we have spoken,/ since that March night I tested you & me/ and found a cold world whistling between us.” In a multipart poem, ostensibly about trees, Reid offers words of encouragement for the peaks and valleys of life’s conflicts: “You are the only thing binding some people to this world/... You do not/ wish to shake one more day by the roots of its hair. But yours/ is the lucky girth, the earthy bulk someone clutches/ with her last strength.” Come for the sonic joy of these poems, stay for Reid’s rich, self-searching meditations on family dysfunction. (Mar.)