In this stunning first collection of poems, Noah Blaustein’s narrators face the complexities that shape a life: adolescence, fatherhood, our responsibility for the lives of others, the exhilaration of romantic love, and memory.

These anxious, frequently witty poems flirt with physical danger, with grief and happiness, and with mortality as a means to transcend the mundane in our day-to-day lives. As the parent narrator says at the end of “Rave On”: “This / life of mine I now know / is no longer mine to take away.” While the narrator believes that there’s no person “that doesn’t benefit from some pain,” this evocative collection proves that life is both pain and comfort, and ends on a prayer of hope for the speaker’s children: “This is a prayer / for my children asleep in their bunk beds. . . . / May they never acquire / death’s thin cello wire, / what connects my cortex to my toes, what plays / memory’s midnight wrong song. . . . / There is beautiful music / out there. There is beautiful music.”

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