Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth: Poems 2004-2006

Adrienne Rich

No doubt Adrienne Rich, the doyenne of American poetry, wishes there were something other than war with which to focus her language with such laser-like precision. But the poems in this collection return always to the ghastly political reality of our times. In “Calibrations,” she makes a turn on former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s already twisted words when describing the struggle of amputee veterans: “Ghost limbs go into spasm in the night / You come back from war with the body you have.” Whatever subject she takes in this collection, the war and the political economy that created it are never far away; every moment of normalcy also manifests horror: “On a scale of one to ten what is your pain today?” (“Letters Censored Shredded Returned To Sender Or Judged Unfit To Send”).