Pamela Hobart Carter’s new poetry book, Held Together with Tape and Glue is a collection of gentle meditations, mostly on ordinary topics.  Some of the poems are erasure poems, but I couldn’t tell which if I hadn’t read the acknowledgements in the front of the book.  There’s no flaunting of technique here, but the poems are very assured.

Consider the opening of “Relined”:

Look at the world
as if for the first time

Beside us
A sense of passage

to carry your self
into its next version.

Or “On the Word”:

Here we are.  On the page.  On the word.
On the dot or the hook or the serif.

Here we are.  In the big city. In this house.
In this room or the kitchen.  Here lies truth.

Truth lies, here on the sofa, with us,
with our feet are up, stocking-footed,

shoes tidily stowed in the closet
when we came in from clearing dead leaves. . . .

One of the longer poems, this one ends: “How did we get so good at calendars and clocks, /still ignorant of true passage.”

One of my favorites is “Bed” which goes through the making of a bed in detail: tug the corners, match the sides, use your hand like an iron to flatten the sheet.  It ends “smooth/as. smooth/ the mind. /done said/done, and day/is readymade.” 

Here is a short poem in its entirety:


Reuse Monet’s haystacks
and meadows, bogs
and rivers. Include ordinary water,
mist, and ice. Associate everything—
thorns may point to red, to circulation,
a royal universe.

Clasp and hold—floating—
the intricate craft
of the heart.  Bask calloused fingers
in the tributaries. Grow, out of facts
habitually forgotten, a family—
brightly colored—of women
preparing to speak.

The hints of collage in this poem are the only place in the book where I find something which might relate to the book’s title.  But these poems are not “held together with tape and glue,” they are woven with intricate craft (to use another meaning of that word in this poem.)  And each calls for reading at least twice.  This is a short but very satisfying collection.