Deborah Landau’s fourth book of poetry, Soft Targets, draws a bullseye on humanity’s vulnerable flesh and corrupted world. In this ambitious lyric sequence, the speaker’s fear of annihilation expands beyond the self to an imperiled planet on which all inhabitants are “soft targets.” Her melancholic examinations recall life’s uncanny ability to transform ordinary placessubways, cafes, street cornersinto sites of intense significance that weigh heavily on the modern mind.
“O you who want to slaughter us, we’ll be dead soon/enough what’s the rush,” Landau writes, contemplating a world beset by political tumult, random violence, terror attacks, and climate change. Still there are the ordinary and abundant pleasures of day-to-day living, though the tender exchanges of friendship and love play out against a backdrop of 21st century threats with historical echoes, as neo-Nazis marching in the United States recall her grandmother’s flight from Nazi Germany.
|Publisher:||Copper Canyon Press|
|Product dimensions:||0.70(w) x 2.20(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
O you who want to slaughter us, we’ll be dead soon enough what’s the rush. This our only world.
As you can see it has a problem, as you can see the citizens are hanging heavy, the citizens’ minds are out
Eros, eros, in Paris we stayed all night in a seraphic cocktail haze despite the blacked out theater, the shuttered panes tonight we’re the most tender of soft targets,
reclining by the river pulpy with alcohol and all a-sloth
Monsieur can we get a few more? There are unmistakable signs of trouble, but we have days and days still let’s be giddy, maybe, time lights a little fire we are animal hungry down to our delicate bones
O beautiful habits of living,
let me dwell on you awhile
In the cut of Mercy she’s in my arms
In the cut of Cruelty she’s done,
a blood slump on the subway floor.
The double cut.
Can we live this way?
I think someone has done grave injury.
I think person or persons.
I think we’re losing by default.
Slaughter happened around the planet.
We stayed in the thicket whipping up love.
This is my plangent note to the ambassadors of love.
(All dreaming now is retroactive.)
The radioactive someday is here.
Our kings are cranks, crooks, incongruous.
They are improper, ill equipped.
How is it we pushed the handle down and they popped out?
And now they sit at the head of our table.
Can we be excused?
Scurrilous scumbags, x-rays of greed, they move themselves
up the flagpole, razing the trees.
Table of Contents
When it comes to this fleshed neck 3
There were real officers in the streets 7
Those nazis, they knew what to do with a soft 21
America wants it soft 31
Into the sheets we slipped, a crisis 41
The silence will be sudden then last 53
The snow goes to the gallows of a warm grass and what survives 59
Don't blame the wisteria 67
About the Author 73