Joshua Beckman's fifth collection of poetry Take It, a title suggesting both offer and imperative, is the product of a big heart and a far-ranging imagination. Published without titles, the poems read like non-sequiturs, each one unfolding with peculiar associations of imagery and thought. The language can move from high-flowing rhetoric to obscenity in a matter of lines, and the personas are a varied cast of characters. This epistolary piece, for example, could be the satirical jottings of Vasco da Gama:
I have left for the Orient. While I recognize that
this may be seen as yet another admission of my bold
and fruitless temperament, I am, at present, little
concerned with such things.
. . .
Oh it's of no use, the Queen wants spices and so spices I am off to find.
One also finds lines reminiscent of French surrealist Benjamin Péret:
I am made of butter, I am wrapped in gold,
I am forgotten as a frialator forgets a haddock,
and then I tell my sweet love that I want to spill
coffee all over her bottomside
The book, however, is not dominated by absurdity or irreverence. Beckman often writes elegiac passages of spiritual crisis, environmental enervation, and human fallibility:
Customer meet the mirror, mirror meet the customer
. . .
Lovely pill, one more time down my throat you will go,
and before long I'll be home—half real with people
on my tv. Swallow. Clean up. Return. And if I
keep doing it, that's what we call my life.
The poems in Beckman's Take It seem to embody the poet Richard Hugo's adage, "In the world of imagination, all things belong . . . not for reasons of logic, good sense or narrative development, but because you put it there." This book will appeal to those who believe the above philosophy to be true or those interested in the results of such a practice.