To illustrate, Tigue writes in “Bliss,” that “In 1899, in New York City, Arthur Smith / hit H. H. Bliss, the first American pedestrian // killed by car.” This prompts:
[ . . . ] My grandmotherAnother little known fact is that Aokigahara is Japan’s suicide forest. In “We are a System of Ghosts,” she enlightens us: “People say it’s the best place to die. [ . . . ] The bodies get cleared out once a year / by volunteers and officials.”
made me sit in the backseat.
Precious cargo, she called me,
rolling slowly over dirt roads.
Each pothole borne in my bones.
Showcasing Tigue’s versatility are a prose poem and a poem that’s to be read both down and across. Midway through the full-page prose poem, “Michigan Central Station has been Closed Since 1988” she writes:
I leave you and fly home in the dark to find spilled vinegar inTry these last lines of the down-and-across poem, “My Dad’s Brother Called Every Year for Five Years then Disappeared.”
the kitchen and, for a moment, think it is blood. I sit on the floor looking
at the stain I’ll have to scrub best-I-can from the linoleum and I stare at
the guilty cat as he jumps from counter to floor and stumbles his landing
and licks his leg. I love to catch an animal pretending.
The news keeps reporting such mysteries. We’d watch for you in places, my dad pacing.Continuing with her versatility, Tigue gives a mini-lesson on geology in “Convergent Boundaries” which starts out scientifically, then warms us up:
For it’s as if we’re all waiting for bodies. Be quiet, he’d whisper. Eric’s on the phone.
Isostatic sinking is caused by heavy weight,
as during glaciation, [ . . . ]
I tell you this is my new favorite
geologic event. That I also love
subduction, when one tectonic plate sinks
below the other at convergent boundaries,
causing hot magma to rise to the surface.
When I told you about subduction,The poem “Drop” tells us to drop what we’re doing. It also contains a stunner of a sentence. “Let’s purge / this house of knickknacks, receipts. I don’t / want to remember the missing. Most of all, / let me lose those stone-frozen eyes– / how the man I loved looked saying: I / never really wanted you.”
I slipped, said seduction. That’s what
this is. But you know that.
I especially like “Interview Practice,” which contains those routine questions we all expect and dread during a job interview. Here is Tigue handling one of them:
What do you do whenOccasionally a poem veers into stream of consciousness. That happens. But after reading System of Ghosts, I feel Tigue is a writer whose works will gain wider attention in the future. The book, available in April, is not only pleasant reading, but it taught me a few new things.
Details about planning
a future. Walks
to nowhere. Something
about wishing, but not believing
in prayer. Say
I strive for tradition. Insist
I’m made for this work.