Autumn is a collection of poems that surprise in the turns they take as they explore beginnings and endings—in life and companionship. The work is achieved through solid images absent an editorial voice that sometimes can slip into poetic writing. The images and the ideas they conjure stay with the reader, summon hope and memory, and invite the reader to revisit the book and its pages.
Occasional inspired echoes (his “See the swan unfurl herself” brings to mind Elizabeth Bishop’s “a heron may undo his head”) will keep readers on their toes, and some inspired play casts new light on the familiar. The dazzling “Fisher of Men” finds fresh meaning in the phrase from Matthew 4:19, asking “After all, what are we?” before contemplating our essence in short, sculpted lines whose individual meanings coalesce into something grander: “Salt, wet, / departure, return, / repeated show / of quick, slow, / still, churning, /descending, ascent /”. The idea, slippery yet powerful, surges on from there, though it’s tempting to double back and revisit the earlier words with the later ones in mind.
Loftus’s work rewards but does not demand that kind of careful attention. He’s adept at evocative yet concrete detail (the “Skoal cans, and shorty Buds” of men out boating) and always imbues a concluding line or couplet with memorable insight, a savvy double meaning, or even a punchline. Autumn offers crisp, memorable verse, but also the opportunity to see what Loftus sees.
Takeaway: These inspired observational poems celebrate and exemplify precision and seeing.
Great for fans of: Ross Gay, Mary Oliver.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+