The subjects of Hudgins's third collection vary widely, including the death of Christ, the demise of a love affair in a cellar, and compost. Hudgins weaves together poems on four themes: nature, religion, his family, and, of course, that old standby, love. The poems lock together and form a sort of jigsaw abstract of life. Hudgins's main strength is his ability to cut to the core of a subject with a deep emotional intensity, then circle around and attack it from another angle, as in ``Praying Drunk,'' and ``Heat Lightining in a Time of Drought.'' The poems are blessed with startling imagery: deer are ``enormous rats on stilts;'' sirens are ``lullabies/ they sound like making love.'' In one ``prayer'' poem, Hudgins speaks in slang to God; he tells God he hears from an old girlfriend, then asks, ``Do you?'' It's surprisingly effective. In one poem he writes with humor, although as he says, ``This is my favorite sin, despair.'' As Hudgins spins his tales, you want to follow him into ``the starting over. And then the never-ending.'' Recommended.-- Doris Lynch, Oakland P.L., Cal.