Thin Kimono
by Michael Earl Craig
Wave Books, $14 (paper)

At the end of “I’m Coming Over to See You,” Michael Earl Craig writes: “Mom always called me ‘enthusiastic’ / when I’d pull my underwear on too hard / and rip them to my chin. // Baby rabbits in your yard. / When I knock don’t let me in.” The intuitive leap, grounded in rhyme and subtler resonances, is early warning that the logic of Thin Kimono is that of dreams. Things are named. Time is fundamentally linear. But causality is obscured. Craig twice quotes Einstein: “Something deeply hidden had to be behind things.” Many of the poems are about work, a space in which most of us spend most of our lives, yet which is rarely claimed as real life. In these poems, work and dreams are as real as relationships. This is especially clear in “Today, For Example,” one of a few horseshoeing poems (Craig is a farrier by trade). It manages to anthropomorphize the horses—one is “unsure about the world, collapses violently when he hears loud noises, likes to cut himself”—while protecting their mystery. And what else is as domesticated (work) and wild (dreams) as horses and us? Perhaps only poetry, where Craig locates the intersection of work and dream, as in “Poem”: “To those people who are always talking about ‘surrealism’ / can I suggest opening your fucking eyes?” Even in the seemingly random firings of a contemporary consciousness, there is a pedestrian suggestion of the possibility of explaining the mind by replicating its moves. And yet the singular consciousness that speaks these poems remains mysterious.