This is a flip-over book, i.e. Gould's poems run through half the book, then flip it over and Nelson's poem runs through the back half. In the middle, between the two works is a portrait by—it is assumed—cover artist Kelly Packer, of a gentle-looking antlered beast which serves as a somewhat puzzling yet soothing centerfold: aside from having no clear connection to the poetry, the artwork stands in rather jarring visual contrast to the harsher, more abstract-leaning cover art. However, this does turn out to be a good pairing overall, especially since while the poets share in common a penchant for swift lines full of vivid imagery, each work diverges from the other when it comes to subject and concern.
Gould's half of the book takes off as a masque of imaginary (at least in part) tortured lovers and friends with names such as Banjo, Bear, Bow Tie, Half Organ, Russia, and Strong Heart who are set at odds in varying landscapes, as in "Upon Strong Heart Noticing Russia's Beauty":
Everything about us revolves
around sex & eczema. Your coffee
mug is cracked & broken. My eyes are cracked
& broken. These poetries are
cracked & broken & ugly & naked.
Nelson’s half, in turn, folds and unfolds language in a long poem-series of eight numbered sections of four parts each, testing reasoned argument against colloquial play, as in this excerpt:
Illuminated meaning and unblinking rivers join colorless,
welcome to collecting secrets. But secrets
break quickly, and not as extended villainy or the whispered fuse
but as streets shadow by numbers, seeming lightly and ignored. ("6.4")
With each poet, the line break functions as a focal point at which, in what seems ostensibly to be the case, the feel of the poem is advanced by way of witty declaration. As Nelson crowds her swallowed vowels, "the hem that gullies in / my gulping pockets" ("4.1") or "You're an untenable, modern decadence / & I am drastically horny" ("2.2"), Gould turns out such twists in her openings as "Having no sense of / words" ("Mirroring Old-fashioned Love") or "I am a hitchhiking love / Song" ("Half Organ"), the poems putting forth an advance on the merit of somewhat tongue-in-cheek semantics overtly driven against expectation.
There is no key to unlocking the dazzling sleights of word choice made in these poems. The poets write to entertain and entice with little concern for sense or meaning to be made. The commitment is to the attempted exploration of new use of language.