Atticus, the Canadian Instagram poet who specializes in treacly froth, last year read at the Strand bookstore in New York wearing a black hoodie and a Guy Fawkes mask that must have escaped from V for Vendetta. Like a utopian, he writes all his poems about love; but if love were as sickly sweet as he claims we’d be headed for extinction.

We reveled

in the sweet taste of each other’s names

as if honey was a sound

and we were thirsty

for its song.

The poems in The Truth about Magic are untitled, often fewer than ten lines, and separated by cheesy romantic photographs apparently lifted from advertisements for spray deodorants or brands of toothpaste.1 The cover shows a woman in a bikini rising heavenward while surrounded—or attacked—by a squall of doves. It’s downhill from there. Most of the poems have been set in type, but a few are handwritten to assure the reader that a real person wrote them and not a computer programmed with fifty years of Hallmark cards.

All I dream

is for our shadows

to spend

a little

more forever

together.

Men and women have no doubt been seduced for centuries by one or another of Shakespeare’s sonnets; but perhaps that sort of poetry is old hat, and a lover intent on seduction now has to roll up to a Brooklyn craft-beer saloon with a rose in one hand and a book of Atticus in the other. In a perfect world, the object of desire would laugh the sap into the street. Swipe left!

Atticus gives hope to every bar-stool weeper who ever scribbled a few words onto a cocktail napkin. Lack of talent has never been a barrier to poetry. Look at Southey, once England’s poet laureate! It’s hard not to despair, however, at the rise of poems written without imagination and so lacking in the tools there’s scarcely a metaphor in the book that isn’t a cliché shoplifted from Walmart. If this young Polonius thinks he’s packed any original wisdom into lines like “We grow old chasing the truths/ we knew as children,” well, the Canadian school system is in trouble.

There have been poets like Atticus before. Half a century ago, Rod McKuen wrote smarmy books titled Listen to the Warm and Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows:

I have no special bed.

I give myself to those who offer love.

Can it be wrong?

Lonely rivers going to the sea

give themselves

to many brooks in passing.

The San Francisco poet would sound, if anything, a little smarter than the Canadian, had he not messed up basic hydrology. McKuen made over two hundred record albums, according to his website, and sold sixty-five million books. He collaborated with Jacques Brel, provided songs for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Boy Named Charlie Brown, and twice was nominated for an Oscar. That should give Atticus pause.

Still, the Canadian has 1.3 million followers on Instagram. At the Strand reading, he offered to take off his mask—and beneath the mask lay another mask. Had I been there, I would have suspected that Atticus was really James Franco or Shia LaBeouf. As I read his cotton-candy sentiments and malignant drivel, which showed no more intelligence than a fried potato, after twenty pages the book began to fall apart. It may have been a sign.

Nick Laird is a cosmopolite in the old sense. Born in Northern Ireland, he lives in New York and London with a world-famous wife coyly referred to as Z. in his dedication. The poems in Feel Free, his fourth book, are hard to get a handle on, as if like the camel they had been designed by committee, one member arguing for politics, another for love, a third for the minutiae of daily life, while a junior member complained that science fiction never gets enough, well, space.2 Meanwhile, the poetic forms have been chosen by lottery.

There’s nothing wrong with the kitchen-sink method—Auden was a devotee and a champion at it. Even so, there’s something arbitrary and mechanical in any method that turns out so many poems that rip and rabble yet never get anywhere. Style without substance looks from a distance like the emperor’s new clothes sans the emperor. Take a poem in medias res:

I do my best to clean the bath,

then separate the bodies of the zombies

from their faces with a crowbar

or a chainsaw,

and make it to the water tower—

but out of the wreckage of a crashed tanker

lurches the Overlord Zombie—

who will not ever stop—

and already is upon me

gorging himself on my delicate neck.

Hang on. Didn’t an unkillable monster emerge from the wreckage of a crashed tanker in Terminator 2? Whatever the frisson of the ending, the poem seems to exist only because, zombies.

There’s also a loopy bit of space-age gonzo about the lives we’ll lead the day after tomorrow:

The only Novacell was in the kitchen so I hesitated

before ambling down the hall and glancing in our Bean

to check that Yip was Uberliving©, ironing Ken’s blouses

and co-hosting a Meet-and-Greet for Bebop enthusiasts,

a form of Original Music she’d quite recently Addicted to.

I slipped in and flicked the MoodChute, whispered the visor’s

name onto the Eardrive and hollowed at his off-site.
 

The world-class brand names are also world-class dopey; still, if Laird wants a prosperous retirement, he’ll trademark them all now. The book is filled with poems inadequately motivated (“To the Woman at the United Airlines Check-in Desk at Newark,” for instance) as well as poems so stuffed with motive they leak from every line.

Almost no one can write political poems worth the time or trouble; but Laird’s poems on the Grenfell Tower fire, refugees, and the Troubles contain the darkness and corruption of feeling rare in poetry since poets started confessing on soapboxes. The Grenfell disaster two years ago, in which a kitchen fire ignited the aluminum cladding on a London high-rise, killing seventy-two, provides occasion for a mordant questionnaire for survivors (“Please rate your experience of your experience,” “Would you say this evening light falls against/ the tower in a manner conducive to your happiness/ or not that at all?”). Mocking tone-deaf bureaucracy is crucial during the worldwide shortage of irony. Laird’s three quasi-sonnets on the Troubles are the most striking since Heaney closed up shop.

The time they were after Joe McCullough

he fought them in and out of his bungalow.

Blood everywhere. He would have been alright [sic]

only one of them went over and slit his throat.

Then they put a booby-trap bomb on him

and a sow pig knocked it and got blew to bits.

And Thomas McConnell. They were hid

on the roof of his tin shed waiting on him.

You know a fella came to our Hall about a year ago

wanting the youngest to go and do silage.

Gareth took the boy aside and said,

D’you know who that is? It was some goon

working for Dessie O’Hare’s crowd, and like a cod,

only for that, he would’ve gone.
 

O’Hare, the infamous Irish republican, was known as the Border Fox. Laird’s density of form and controlled modulation provide a focus that doesn’t let him indulge his worse instincts.

Such moments, unfortunately, are rare in this inconsistent, fitfully talented book. The poem “Cinna the Poet” takes a clever idea and rambles on so interminably the reader may be sorry he’d ever read Julius Caesar. There’s one hilarious stanza:

Last week, after the purge,

Kestius stopped me in the toilets to tell me

how he’d sealed his major poems in earthen jars

and buried them at nightfall by the lilac in his garden.
 

Otherwise the poem outstays its welcome almost before it has begun, whereas Shakespeare had the good sense to dispatch poor Cinna in a few lines as a warning to bad versifiers.

Addicted to prose masquerading as poetry, Laird churns out lines longer than prison sentences, while his openings often beg to be forgotten (“When my head was on fire I googled fire,” “I get very bored of having to respond/ to the circumstances of my own life”). The list, that last refuge of the Grub Street hack paid by the word, never met a Laird poem it didn’t like. After “I give you a bed for your tiredness: I give you/ some bread I have toasted and buttered: I give you// a stretch of the earth, baked hard, where we follow/ the shiny beetle hauling the shield of himself into noon,” you want to treat him like a tobacco farmer and pay him to plow the crop under. Look at that beetle, though! I wish Laird would fall in love with Marianne Moore and write epics about insects.

Sharon Olds’s most recent book was titled Odes, but the diva in her has called its successor Arias.3 The poet has long been an anatomist of her body and a forensic pathologist of her past. Now seventy-seven, she embraces the commonplace of aging that the closer you descend toward your own death the closer you feel to your muddy beginnings. One of the first new poems is an eye-watering stare in the mirror as she gives a stump speech—or sings an aria—on not wearing makeup. She claims, “I have no features”:

I am embryonic, pre-eyebrows, pre-eyelids, pre-mouth,

I am like a water bear talking to them,

or an amniotic traveler,

a vitreous floater on their own eyeball,

human ectoplasm risen on its hind legs to discourse with them.

And such a white white girl, such a sickly toadstool,

so pale, a visage of fog, a phiz of

mist above a graveyard,

and away she goes until she exhausts the idea, though whether she could exhaust any idea is a reasonable question. When she starts piling Pelion on Ossa, she doesn’t know when to quit. I love the use of phiz, a trusty nineteenth-century colloquialism now probably past revival. The funhouse-mirror description is too much like human ectoplasm itself.

Olds loves nature the way the wolf loves the sheep; but she seems to have lost any governor on her passions. Asked if she misses the Bay Area, she comes armed with a reply:

not the sight of the prison where people

waited to be roasted in metal chairs by the State and its God—

but the diesel water licking Emeryville,

the sea lions on Seal Rock below Cliff House,

the thousands of kinds of trees like a cloth factory with

millions of bolts of leaf-shapes and cone-patterns;

and the insects, the bees, dragons, damsels, wasps, hornets, flies;

eucalyptus tearing off her clothes in shreds,

the little blue socket-knocker hatboxes,

the live-oaks billion pen-point nib-needles,

the trees’ shadows like dropped black skirts.

Roasted in metal chairs? She makes the execution chamber sound like the kitchen at Le Bernardin. Olds has always had a decent eye (“eucalyptus tearing off her clothes in shreds” comes delightfully out of nowhere); but her descriptions arrive in miniature tsunamis that drown the reader, who can scarcely remember what set her off.

Much of the book revisits the past still alive within the present, making Arias a book of elegies. Though her parents are long in the grave, they rise like sour ghosts as she returns to the graveyard of old memory. These revivals seem less a necessary reprise than a farewell tour with endless rounds of standing ovations for the leading lady. Olds suffered a fraught childhood that has richly supplied her with grievances against her mother, who smacked her with the poet’s great-grandmother’s “Victorian tortoiseshell/ hairbrush” and once tied her to a highchair: “My mother beat me in 4/4 time,/ and I rant, now, to her beat—I wear/ her rings as if I killed her for them.”

It’s one thing not to let the past go, even after seventy years, another to scrape at the wounds until they cannot heal. (In the book’s following poem, “I was a/ child beaten to the 4/4 beat/ of the hymns.”) Olds has added a dozen new poems on her rotten old mother and those crippling beatings, but the repetition—or is that repetition compulsion?—diminishes the force of retribution. There are four elegies for Galway Kinnell, and half-a-dozen poems for the lover she took after divorce:

I liked that he liked seeing us,

that time the closet door was open so the

mirror on it faced us, I was on

top, we were about to come,

and he said, in joy, “Look at us, Sharon,

we are fucking each other!”

Soon enough, he’s history, too.

After three poems to her stepmother; a poem in two parts about the scattering of her mother’s ashes, both covering the same scene; three poems about the seventh-grade classmate who was raped and murdered (a horrifying incident mentioned in Olds’s first book, not for the last time); after poems on corporal punishment, climate change, and whiteness; after poems ripped from the headlines on the killings of Trayvon Martin, Etan Patz, and Matthew Shepard; after arias whose titles cover every letter of the alphabet, alphabetically (“Anal Aria,” “Breaking Bad Aria,” “Calabash Aria,” and on to “XYZ Aria”); after a poem in part about the way things disappear down a toilet bowl (“the toilet paper/ pulling apart into transparent wings in that pre-/ Stygian greenish element”), the poor reader might be grateful to escape with just a concussion. Readers praise Olds for her honesty, if that’s what it is; but shouldn’t poetry be more than that?

Everything in Arias is appetite. Many poetry books by the Modernists were rather short. A Boy’s Will, fifty-three pages. Cathay, under thirty; Prufrock and Other Observations, barely more; and The Waste Land, fewer than forty, and pieced out with notes to almost twice that length just to please the publisher. Four Quartets, forty-four. Even where books were longer, they were sometimes leaded for as few as sixteen lines per page. Now a poet is a hundred-pound weakling if the book can’t make it to a hundred pages—or, in Olds’s case, almost twice that.

The medium known for pressure and tension suffers when the poet treats every poem as a license to natter on at length. The prosy lines have nowhere particular to go and don’t care how long it takes, and Olds’s prosaic treatment of matters painful and personal feels like ritual disembowelment. There’s a tender poem on young love, about watching a young man’s penis grow hard. Then she writes, “he welcomed me to our nakedness/ where the painful apartness of our genderedness/ was tenderly relieved.” When she hits genderedness, the reader can be forgiven for laughing aloud and throwing the book against the wall.

Sylvie Baumgartel’s first book is an X-rated version of Song of Songs, the sexiest book in the Bible.4 Long attributed to Solomon, though probably written more than half a millennium later, the songbook’s genesis, purpose, and date are still subject among scholars to what is politely called discussion. For centuries its rampant sexual character was in Judaism recast as an allegory for God’s love of Israel, and in Christianity as God’s or Christ’s love of the Church. This required a nifty piece of argument for passages like

My love thrust his “hand” into the hole,

And my inwards seethed for him.

I rose to open for my love,

And my hands dripped myrrh,

My fingers liquid myrrh,

On the handles of the bolt.

That translation by Marvin H. Pope, editor of Song of Songs for the Anchor Bible, notes the use, in early Ugaritic texts as well as in Isaiah, of “hand” for “phallus” or what he also calls the “membrum virile.”

Compare the staid King James translation, where the book is called The Song of Solomon (“My beloved put in his hand by the hole [of the door], and my bowels were moved for him”), with the opening of Baumgartel’s let-out-the-stops rendition:

I walked in the door, took off my coat, took off my sunglasses, set them down with my keys, took off my shoes and socks, my jeans, my shirt, my bra and underwear, set them all on the chair by the door, walked into the house naked, went to the fridge, got my cucumber, . . . slipped the cucumber inside and went all the way up deep, said your name, cucumber in and out all the way, all the way in, all the way out, my cunt lips sliding on the cucumber, you, you, you, then you were pissing on my face, which made me so excited I came came came.

Needless to say, her cheerfully unfaithful reworking is not safe for work. If you think Sharon Olds has done some louche field-studies among vaginas and anuses, she’s an amateur compared to Baumgartel.

The poet is not without a sense of humor. The opening passage is followed shortly by “I combed my cunt hair. I roasted red peppers. I peeled and made cucumber salad with the cucumber since that was its last go of it.” What seems at first sex between equals or some species of voyeurism, however, is soon revealed to be based firmly on bondage, discipline, sado-masochism, and much else. Gagging, whipping—just what the ancients had in mind.

I woke up with my fingers in my pussy. They were already there, going in and out from my dream. You were doing things to another woman. . . . You told her to leave. You pissed on me and I drank it. The fountain of God.

The book’s amusements tend to be sidelong, if not accidental. A reference to “possible trouble in the Affleck-Garner marriage and the Queen wanting Duchess Kate to get back to work” already seems as dated as a yellowed newspaper lining a camelback trunk, with a banner headline on Judge Crater. Mention is made of Downton Abbey, Buddhism, even Martha Stewart; but otherwise there’s little to suggest that this couldn’t have taken place in ancient Israel or Ugarit.

The poet has some sly turns, like the speaker’s attractive fragility and nervousness, and a long passage at the end about trying to buy a dog collar for herself (“I am a size Small dog collar”). They’re not quite enough, however, to salvage a book that bogs down in a master–slave relationship where the dominant and subservient never get to trade places. The frequent use of Master may remind the reader of Emily Dickinson’s extraordinary letters, perhaps never sent, to a Master who may have been an older man with whom she was having an affair: “I’ve got a Tomahawk in my side but that dont hurt me much, Her Master stabs her more.”

Most religions depend on prostration before a god, and it’s scarcely more than a leap and a bound from there to sex. Temple prostitutes were long part of the package. On the evidence here, if God were at all interested in sex, it would not be a pretty sight. Baumgartel’s language confirms how easily the language of prayer slips into submission.

Biblically inspired or not, the porn runs on an endless loop. After a dozen pages of sex romps, there’s little left to invent; and it turns as numbing as watching a carpenter hammer nails into a log or a cheetah devour its prey—fascinating in a National Geographic–way, but no more stirring than having your teeth drilled. Repetition, sadly, is the death of eros. The interesting hints are rarely followed up. (When God becomes a snake, you think, “Ah, wouldn’t that make Genesis like Job?”) There’s hardly any act in the last fifty pages of this overlong book that wasn’t executed successfully at the start. Indeed, these lovers are curiously limited and suburban. Where’s the Kama Sutra when you need it?

Paul Muldoon has long been the chief puzzle-setter and Scrabble addict of our verse. His quirky subjects, brute-force rhymes, and cleverer-than-thou air are as delicious as they are tormented. The most ambitious poem in his new book, Frolic and Detour, is a heroic crown of sonnets, a good example of the ways he can’t help himself.5 (I almost wrote “crown of thorns.”)

Not for the first time would we wrest the heavy door

of the barn from its jambs.

The door had been painted the red of iron ore,

the posts daubed with the blood of a lamb

to protect us from the Angel of Death.

It all had to do with two interpenetrating cones.

One of the pillars of the sons of Seth

was built of brick, the other of dressed stone.

(The interpenetrating cones are Yeats’s gyres from A Vision, while the pillars come from Josephus.) A heroic crown interweaves the poems by making the final line of one sonnet the first of the next. The last line of the fourteenth returns to the first line of the crown, while the fifteenth sonnet is composed of all the first lines, in order. (Muldoon eases the pain by making his collective sonnet repeat little more than the rhyme words.) The form is archly and arcanely demanding.

You never know where one of Muldoon’s poems will take you, and after it gets there you’re not always sure why it did. Though the crown begins in memory of life on an Irish farm (Muldoon was born on a small farm in County Armagh), it goes from a pig hanging from a roof truss to Vikings, Asia Minor, a Ouija board, Leda, sepoys, and an Egyptian chariot. On it goes, brilliant, bewildering, blithering. The idea that the poet’s job of work is to make rhymes look natural has been thrown out the barn door, because for Muldoon rhymes are just goads to get the poem under weigh.

Too much of this witty and rarefied book is wasted on fakir tricks and sideshow cons. I love the way Muldoon shoulders in, swinging his cudgel left and right, hitting everything in reach until the poem collapses from exhaustion. Even so, some of the poems are little more than goofs. “Pablo Picasso: Bottle of Bass and Glass (1914)” is a list of the favorite tipples of famous writers—“Dante Alighieri drank it straight no chaser,” “Emily Dickinson drank from her saucer,” “Daniel Defoe avoided whiskey like the plague.” Some are true; some, nutty; some just literary in-jokes. He likes the poem so much he immediately prints it again, word for word, with a different title slapped on. That must be the frolic promised by the title of the book. Later there’s a doltish piece composed of proverbs that never caught on: “When the doctor’s away the cat will get the cream,” “The path of least resistance leads to Rome,” “Cut your coat according to the moth,” “Loose lips tie knots.” After five pages of such daffiness, the authorities need to be called.

Historical anachronisms don’t bother Muldoon a bit—even if it’s a bit much to have a man riding with the Apaches mention “those moments of clarity/ when fast-forward skitters and skids to slo-mo.” (The poet’s attempt to drag history into the present, as Christopher Logue in War Music and Geoffrey Hill in Mercian Hymns strikingly did, is only intermittently successful.) Some aren’t necessarily errors, like having the Apache chief Mangas Coloradas say, “Close shave,” meaning a narrow escape. The first citation in the OED is dated to 1834, and Mangas didn’t die until decades later. Some corrections are needed, nevertheless: as a boy Robert Lowell was known as Bobby, not Bobbie; a reporter buries the lede, not the lead; and I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would use a heavy-duty sander to “loosen the tongue” of a floorboard. (If you want to pry up a tongue-and-groove board, you usually cut the tongue off with a circular saw.)

This vast book squeezes Blake-like into its small compass all the flotsam and jetsam a poet could desire. The final poem namechecks the Iroquois, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, Bicknell’s thrush, Medjool dates, Tinker Bell, Sacco and Vanzetti, Adirondack chairs, and a warehouse full of other nonsense. I’d call it an embarrassment of riches, but when was Muldoon ever embarrassed by his riches? Yet every time I’m about to give up on his toying and teasing, he writes something astonishing: “I suppose that, at dusk,/ a cartouche might look somewhat like a cartridge,” or “the moon being merely the stamp of God’s wooden leg.” Or:

It looks as if Matthew, Luke, and John all followed Mark

in conflating the centurions who diced

for Jesus’s camel-hair

jacket with those off-duty policemen shooting craps.
 

I’d rather read Muldoon than almost any poet of my generation, even when he’s merely irritating, merely bemused, and a long way toward turning major gifts into minor disasters or miniature poodles. You can be grateful for his work but want him to stop twiddling his thumbs. He remains a consummate juggler, even when at the end of the act all the bowling balls and flaming chainsaws lie scattered across the stage.

Richard Kenney also puts a premium on cleverness, though it’s hard to tell where cleverness ends and preposterous contrivance begins. Kenney’s first book, The Evolution of the Flightless Bird, was chosen by James Merrill as the Yale Series of Younger Poets selection for 1983. It remains one of the few distinguished books published since the heyday of the series after the war, when Auden was judge. (His selections included Adrienne Rich, W. S. Merwin, John Ashbery, and James Wright.) In short order, Kenney received the Rome Prize in Literature and a MacArthur fellowship.

Terminator, his fifth book, has been long in the making and shows every sign of it.6 The book has three prefatory poems and at the end an “outtake” defending the title. (Hint: Arnie has nothing to do with it.) Kenney suggests elsewhere that one six-page poem took him decades. Elizabeth Bishop drafted some poems in the thirties soon after she left Vassar that remained unfinished until the seventies, if they were finished at all. A long germination is not necessarily a black mark against a poem, but there’s often a whiff here of something too long in the oven:

Imagine a loved face reflecting on the side-

edge of a scimitar-shaped shard

of a breaking mirror—just thus

it was: sun-whet suddened at the oculus

of the Pantheon one day,

just barely, along its under

eyelid—

Look! Eyeliner, I said.

Couplet rhymes come and go through the poem, now exact, now missing in action, now stumbling somewhere in between. Perhaps the image shouldn’t take quite so much labor—a portmanteau noun like “sun-whet,” the use of “sudden” as a verb, and the long run-up to the dry and dizzy bit of dialogue suggest that too much calculation ends in tears. The play’s not worth the candle was the old saying, but sometimes the candle’s not worth the match.

That’s one of the more sensible passages in a very long book. Kenney is a serious aficionado of science and philosophy, those subjects so delightful to read and so hard to squeeze into poetry. After the longueurs of De rerum natura and The Loves of the Plants, you’d think poets would have given up the idea as a bad job. Recall Stevens, who thought he was a philosopher. Think of Eliot, who was a philosopher—or at least a deep student—but whose poetry almost always did better without it. Kenney has three poems on a human-chimp chimera, a number about Arcturan spacemen, and some light verse treating evolution: “You need some genes for jumping,/ but none for not jumping too high,/ since that information is stored on location,/ between the earth and sky.” It’s more or less a limerick.

Kenney fares better when he relies on Auden, and his occasional imitations of the old master possess the fuse the dynamite is so often missing: “Soon the lymph begins to leak./ Telephones commence to speak.” The lines remain donnishly donnish, but they make you miss a poet dead now almost half a century. The problem is, there’s so little light and air in this book that the manual labor of ferreting out the meaning produces little pleasure in comprehension. Faced with such an economy, where an hour of panning yields a penny of wisdom, even gold miners would abandon the claim.

It’s far more pleasant to collect some of the bad lines that prove a man with a fine poetic ear can still commit sins against the language: “a new suture/ down the calvarium of/ memento mori”; “your mind’s reticulum in shreds”; “what’s flesh anyway but shadow-/ garb a gone god’s doffed”; “they’ll never prove keen enough to resect the clade/ from the light-waves washing all this flotsam in”; “Pock-ploops the early asteroidal rain-drum din”; “the great corrugated thumbnail of God/ scrapes a starless line/ across the screeching empyrean.” Try saying “shadow-garb a gone god’s doffed” ten times fast.

These examples have been cherry-picked from the first dozen pages of this heavy-handed book, so here’s a passage from the end:

Syntax rides mahout on an ancient python,

wrestling that sine-wave till it’s kenned

a superscript, encoded in the writhing

muscle of emotional intent.

Intelligence in poetry is always an attraction—Eliot, Auden, and Hill produced some of the most graceful and most difficult verse of the past century. Kenney’s new poems, alas, not only smell of the lamp—they taste like the lamp, too. He probably aced the Stanford-Binet; but Terminator was written by a Casaubon so long and deep in the library he can no longer find his way out.
 

1The Truth about Magic, by Atticus; St. Martin’s Griffin, 250 pages, $17.99.

2Feel Free, by Nick Laird; Norton, 77 pages, $15.95 (paper).

3Arias, by Sharon Olds; Alfred A. Knopf, 196 pages, $29.95; $18.95 (paper).

4Song of Songs: A Poem, by Sylvie Baumgartel; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 72 pages, $23.

5Frolic and Detour, by Paul Muldoon; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 130 pages, $25.

6Terminator: Poems, 2008-2018, by Richard Kenney;

Alfred A. Knopf, 209 pages, $28.95.

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