Existentialism takes on a glamorous flair in Deborah Landau’s dazzling new collection. Through a series of poems preoccupied with loneliness and mortality, Skeletons flashes with prismatic effect across the persistent allure of the flesh. Initiated during Brooklyn’s early lockdown, the book reflects the increasingly troubling simultaneity of Eros and Thanatos, and the discontents of our virtual lives amidst the threats of a pandemic and corrosive politics. Spring blooms relentlessly while the ambulances siren by. Against the mounting pressure that propels the acrostic “Skeletons,” a series of interstitial companion poems titled “Flesh” negotiate intimacy and desire. The collection culminates in an ecstatic sequence celebrating the love and connection that persist despite our fraught present moment. Shrugging off her own anxiety and disillusionment with characteristic humor and pitch-perfect cadence, Landau finds levity in pyrotechnic lines, sonic play, and a wholly original language, asking: “Any way outta this bag of bones?”
To be afraid of every edge, the falling off of it.
Walking at night. Walking under the scaffolding,
passing the spot where the kid lost his phone at gunpoint,
where my daughter while walking to school past the trash
and daffodils was actually in the moment truly happy.
How mildly the days go by and again
the small cove, after the workday, of going home.
This day. The next. The great lengths we went to save
the wild turkeys last summer, how the traffic stopped for them
while the factory farms fed each and every chick
chick chick chick chick into the chipper.