Adrian Sobol opens his new poetry collection with the line “I was given bad news.” The rest of the collection, with all of its spinning uncertainty, seems to be a reaction to this first, pivotal line. We, the readers, have been given bad news, and the poet is there with words that may help make sense of it. Eventually, if you are thinking along the same lines as I am, you may come to the conclusion that the bad news is that you are stuck in the present, wherever and whenever that may be. 

Sobol’s poems seem to be hurtling towards some unknown end, or, if looked at from a different angle, flying backwards into the nonsensical refuge of childhood. They are about abandoning the seriousness of our present adulthood–choosing to write love letters to no one in particular and starve for the sake of a friendly competition. 

The people I love begin to gather in rooms I’m not allowed into. 

The people I love say I have grown up to become terrifically horrible. 

Still, after all they have done, they continue to be the people I love. 

Through a healthy amount of wit, some clever juxtaposition, and a well-placed haiku inspired by Matthew McConaughey, Sobol pushes us from the comfort of our daily lives. His poems evict us from monotony and force us to see that we have reached the point in our lives when we take “the batteries from the smoke detector to begin living dangerously.” 

And all the while, we are given small pieces of comfort, fragments of baby blankets to wrap around ourselves to protect us from the knowledge he seems intent on giving. Every now and again, Sobol seems to be talking directly to the reader as a fellow traveler. 

It’s okay to feel accidental. Anecdotal evidence suggests we barely belong in the lives we make. We may all be better off in Boca! It’s in the checkout magazine’s interest to make you wait & consider options, the difference between content, contentment, & continent—which one, you think, is big enough for you?

The poet dares you to squint, to look at his poems and try to see what is at their dark, blurry edges, to try to make sense of the parts of the picture your eyes can pick up in the diminished light. He writes, “what you repeat will reveal itself to be yours,” and the truth of that rings out past the pages of this book. The reality of this collection is this–the poet may have intended commentary on death, or the monotony of adulthood, or the perils of love, but what you repeat, what you fixate on, is yours. 

  • review by Mary Anne Bordonaro

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