Haxton is one of a growing number of younger poets whose work is less concerned with things or ideas than with the act of meditating on them. The contemplative consciousness itself takes center stage (``I sit for hours/ Watching with the potted plants''), but rarely is it embroiled in any readily discernible spiritual or emotional struggle. Instead, one senses inertia, a curious lack of youthful momentum. In Haxton's favor, he shows some talent for music (``the gold whorl of a winded elm unwinds'') and wit, but many of his formal poems have an awkward, archaic ring: ``My thoughts like indecipherable stone/ I read all day, and neither laugh nor weep.'' Less bountiful than his previous collection, Dominion ( LJ 4/1/86), this one too frequently suffers from a troubling emptiness.-- Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib.