Lyman Grant, The Road Home
Publisher: Dalton Publishing
2007, 75 pages, paperback, $12.95

lyman grant’s the Road Home is an intensely personal work, and highly specific to the life of the author. As a whole, the book concerns myriad topics of poetic location, but especially love and sex, and the joys of a life well lived. Though the poems travel in subject from highways (“290 West”) to metaphors coaxed from Greek myth (“Leaving Eurydice”) to issues of child custody, marriage, and divorce, the writing itself remains remarkably constant, concerned with the creation of the good life, and with scouring each moment for richness and texture, as in “Searching the Parking Lot for a Poem”:

I would want to be clear, to make
understood that the distances
are vast, and that the air contains
a heat.

In his searching, Grant manages the occasional sharp, lasting image, as in “The Rose’s Thorns”:

Might it have
been the shame of sunlight shining
on her face untouched by dew
or the ache of being pulled
apart upon an empty bed,
the agony of scent unflared.

This last image lingers ghostlike, well after the poem itself has worn away.

At its best, Grant’s book embraces this ripe and ready language, eager to pull apart everyday experience in order to know the rough gristle beneath, as in “These are Things I’ve Been Wanting to Tell You”:

And I couldn’t give a flying fuck
about fabrics and furniture,
about what Martha Stewart or Architectural Digest
would do with our space
about how angels, or was it gargoyles, are in or out.

However, some moments in the book fail to follow up on this energy, choosing instead the easy pun (as in “The Y”: “doing laps at the Y / swimming, swimming toward you. / Down under I reach to / stroke your open thighs”) or obvious adjectives (consider “Black Bowl with Apples on Old Table Cloth”: “I have placed a bowl of apples / in the center of the table, / an iron bowl, black and strong.”).

Still, the finest poems carry the collection well, and Grant isn’t afraid to take risks. The intimacy with which he treats his life is often poignant: “Suddenly my heart ripens and hangs ready for you / to reach through the busted window and pick” (“Thoughts on Not Being Married #3”). This intimacy serves him well, though on occasion it feels the audience is left out of the relationship between Grant’s personal world and his poetry, no matter how rich those realities may be.

-Jessica Talamantez