Before Dawn on Bluff Road: Selected New Jersey Poems / Hollyhock in the Fog: Selected San Francisco Poems by August Kleinzahler, 71 and 77 pages.
Two excellent collections of poems bound together tete-beche (two books together with one starting at each cover, text of the one flipped 180 degrees from the other).
I guess that I lack a real appreciation of the places described in the tow different volumes, for while I have always felt that San Francisco was one of my favorite places in the world, and I don't believe that I have ever visited New Jersey, I was equally moved by the poems in each volume. The author's sense of home, his nostalgia for the time and place for each poem is transmitted clearly to the reader leaving the reader to share in the longing for a look back, a visit, a reconnecting (even if, as I mentioned, the reader might not have previously connected). Kleinzhaler alludes to popular culture, and shabby, worn down memory, in a breezy, familiar tone to draw you in and keep you listening.
The poems seem familiar, and some seem to hearken back hundreds of years; as if they were brief and evocative missives from the old Chinese poets translated by Kenneth Rexroth or Ling Chung, as in "Late Indian Summer" from the San Francisco Poems:
The rains hold off another week,
And the midday heat,
long after the wine grapes are in, has the cat
sprawled flat under the jade plant.
Nights already belong to winter.
You know that tuning fork in its jacket
broadcasting to the body's far ports.
Days like this so late in the year
inflame desire, perturb
the ground of dreams, and roust us from sleep,
exhausted and stunned.
Great stuff. Really worth a read.