Ray McManus's third book of poetry, Punch., is a call for the claw-hammer, a hymn to the steel toe, and a series of lonely missives from truck cabs and office cubicles. Punch. is a book about work, about the will that rises and the dust that falls. It is about being "lost, hungry, and hopeless, creeping toward the pipelines in a '78 Buick Regal with Big Star on the radio." Sometimes angry, sometimes darkly funny, these lean and muscular poems explore the world of punching in and punching out, the punch-drunk and the sucker-punched. Whether the poems are tightened by the rhythm of a hard hand, or the lines sprawl across the page with swagger, there is real music here. Brute voices, contemplative and haunting, speak to us with unwavering self-conflict and salty confidence. In these poems, life is a struggle and the end is already written, but there's something deeply moving about the resilience and resistance of these voices: "Lunch won't be here / for another hour," one says, "so when the rain / comes, it is welcome."
av Ray Mcmanus
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