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Poems that join and bind through books and years

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Nathaniel Mackey’s poems entwine across pages and volumes and years, nearly half a century now. Somerville’s Black Ocean has recently published “Lay Ghost,’’ a potent — and beautiful to hold — set of eight pieces lifted from Mackey’s ongoing series of poems, “Song of the Andoumboulou.’’ In his unmistakable cadence, Mackey writes of a gang of cosmic wanderers moving through memory, thought, and actual world. “Earthy someone said, abstract,/would it were able, mind ridding itself of/ itself.” His lines are sensual, mystical, and everyday, like song, like a choir singing in a language you don’t speak but understand, like “something happening we had no name for other than time,” fulfilling “an/expectation none of us knew/we had.”

NINA MACLAUGHLIN

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