A quick glance at the table of contents points to Shirley (Long Distance) as a writer with a painter's eye for color, shade, and detail. But her titles only hint at her tremendous skill with imagery. In an early poem, she juxtaposes April 15, taxes, and the anniversary of Henry James's death. Such antics might seem reminiscent of the surrealists' description of art as "a chance encounter between an umbrella and a sewing machine on an operating table," but unlike the surrealists, Shirley creates poems that are down to earth, her associations at once jarring and rational. However deeply the poems delve into relationships, secrets, and betrayals, everything seems presented at face value, with no undue emotions clouding the words. Many poems are concerned with death but depict the human intertwined with nature and carrying its own sense of renewal (the dead and the living easily change places: "after I dream of you I can spend all day planning/ how to respond the next time we speak"). Shirley uses craft and consistency, usually working in tight, three-line stanzas, to act as a container for disparate images. The result is recommended for all comprehensive poetry collections.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly with Soho Weekly News, New York Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.