In five sets of “broken” sonnets, Jack Powers pulls readers into and through the lives, decisions, regrets, and celebrations of a score of deeply human characters—himself included. From teenager Jack, who tries to “rig” the Catholic confessional system, to ancient Bob, who tends his dying Cindy gently after 62 years of marriage, we watch and find ourselves rooting for Powers’ people. We want his seeds to grow, his buds to blossom, his dying leaves to drift in pleasant breezes. (And we know they’re dying; it’s as clear as the fact that a sonnet has 14 lines.) We hear the quiet laughter hiding under Powers’ songs. Life is complex, and Jack Powers feels that complexity with the sensitivity of a seismometer, records it with the accuracy of a mathematician, and plays it like jazz.


So listen—and watch--as rhymes loosen, lines lengthen, images double back and become symbols, and stories echo other rich and colorful stories. Last Acts come first in this collection, followed by twenty portraits which are, arguably, Still Love: a gentle cat; a stoned teen grilling burgers; a father explaining in vitro fertilization; Alice Neel painting brutally honest self-portraits. Sonnet forms run like tangled wires through Powers’ collection, perhaps most noticeably the Still Love pieces, and in the section titled Unruly Love, where form and content collaborate in breaking or unruling rules. Noble Suffering offers case studies testing philosophical notions about the value of suffering. The results are … tentative….


Jack Powers is the author of Everybody's Vaguely Familiar. His poems and essays have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, The New York Times and elsewhere. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. He and his wife, Anne, live in Fairfield CT and have three children scattered across the country. He recently retired from Joel Barlow High School after 38 years of teaching special education, English and math.


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