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“Behold the door / the lock’s alive,” warns Stan Rice in one of the commanding poems that make up this new volume of verse. From the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras to the private chambers of the imagination, Rice’s work is at times sharp and minimalist and at times over the top in its vivid critique of life and in its regard for the sanctity that lurks in all experience. In these concise, memorable verses, he contemplates the stroller-pushing crowd in the American mall; he maps the complex traffic of a marriage; he speaks to the cat bristling in the closet: “—for you, / For your on-tiptoe hissing / Slit-pupiled arched-backed tail- / Stiffened terror, this song.” Throughout, Rice sings of the darkness that conflicts us and of the moments of pure consciousness that allow us to transcend darkness.
Eating Club In the nearly 60 short lyrics of Red to the Rind, Stan Rice's seventh collection, the poet's New Orleans summons vibrant descriptive panache: "The great Sugar kettles are brimful of beer and ice. The melt-water has turned the yard into dung. A gangplank of plastic grass Leads us over the muck." The book concludes with two long poems, "The Underworld" and "Dismemberments," which string together short "linked epiphanies" into a kind of Dantesque nightmare where Rice's speaker finds himself playing cards while "sitting in `Hitler's Bed' Like a cherry on an eclair With messed-up hair," and then popping out for a Viennese coffee and "The most delicious pastry I have ever tasted and the contradiction Between Deliciousness and Discipline, well The thought nearly makes breast-milk Come out of my penis."