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Profit and Pleasure Aug 27, 2005
This collection comes closer than anything I've read lately to achieving Horace's ideal of blending profit and pleasure, "at once delighting and instructing the reader." In AMERICAN YARD, you will encounter such gems as "Pacific Airstream Reaches New England" a Petrarchan sonnet, describing in breathtaking detail the effect on flora and fauna of a December heat wave; "Taxidermy," which tells the real story of Teddy Roosevelt's boyhood home, rich with entertaining quotations and sharp observations; "American Yard," an inventively-rhymed couplet sonnet, describing the media sensationalism and desolate aftermath of a small-town murder; "Pregnant in June," and "Postpartum Pantoum," two of several poems on motherhood, which combine to achieve a sophisticated medley of blissful revery and earthy humor ("We used the diapers up three days too soon."). Later on, in "Facts of Life," the poet checks on her pre-teen daughter and a playmate, who have been quiet for too long. She finds them immersed in a dictionary of slang expressions: "'Hi, Mom!' 'This is a gas!' / Two heads bend over a book./ 'Cathouse.' 'My ass is grass.'/ 'And bunnyf___ -- here, look!'" In other sections, you will find unique explorations of male & female relationships, art & folklore, early America, politics, and women's lives, all fluently formal and gratifyingly informed by an etymological and historical thoroughness. Dolores Hayden's AMERICAN YARD is truly fruitful entertainment.