fleets his home state of North Carolinanand is laced with stories of local inhabitantsnpast and present, their trials andnjoys. A sense of history informs many ofnthese pieces, such as “Among Names ofnMy Fathers,” in which Applewhite meditatesnin the family burial ground on thenvicissitudes of time; however, it is a historynthat seems remote. A “dark identity”nconnects the poet with his ancestors,nmen whose lives seem “fabulous” to him.nYet even as he disapproves of certain aspectsnof their lives (e.g., their owningnslaves), he also sees himself as one withnthem, both in his genetic heritage and innhis common mortality. “Making TobacconMoney” looks at the past and celebratesnthe hard labor of farmers who cultivatednthe land and made it productive,na time when “folks identified themselvesnnot by wealth on paper but / by visiblenachievements of their hands.” The samenbackward glance to an earlier era marksn”The Cemetery Next to Contentnea”;nhere Applewhite ponders the hardinessnof farm families, their realism, and theirnperseverance. Other jjoems focus on thenconditions of contemporary farmersnwho, like their forebears, are swept alongnin the river of time and change. For instance,nthe persona in “A Wilson CountynFarmer” muses on the difficulty ofnfinding field hands, on declining tobacconprices, and on his own lonely existence.nA similar situation is reprised in “Accidentnof hiheritance,” in which a son whonhas inherited his father’s farm wonders ifnrural life is worth the struggle.nThe poignancy of change is touchinglynrendered in poems such as “The RestnHome,” in which, after witnessing thenpitiable condition of the institutionalizednelderly, the narrator comments, “It’sna shame / We say, feeling ourselves creaturesn/ Together in this small world ofntime.” Life’s ineluctable progression towardndeath makes us feel our vulnerability.nSeveral poems sound this same note.nBut temporality and mortality do notnhave the final say. The last poem in thencollection, “Light’s Praise,” is a paeannand prayer to the glory of sunlight:n”Light, existent from the start, not to ben/ extinguished by my or anyone’s exit, circlen/ on yourself oh self-subsistent seeing.n…” The hegemony of time is challengednas well by human love and togetherness,nas in “The Ridge on thenEdge of the Day.” The poet watches thensunset and feels the passage of time butncomes to this conclusion: “Tonight I amncontent to be a creature lent / this ridingnwith the movement of the planet since /nacross the noise of water is my wife,nwhose / kiss will ease the mystery as wenface the night together.” Love does notnconquer time, but it does make it bearable.nHenry Taylor’s book consists of twonpreviously published collections, ‘ThenHorse Show at Midnight (1966) and AnnAfternoon of Pocket Bilhards (1975), thenformer showing the promise of a youngnpoet, the latter the power of a more maturenone. Traditional forms and metersnabound in both collections and are executednwith skill and flair, though some ofnthe pieces in the earlier volume are a bitntoo whimsical for my taste.nThe insistent theme of time and historynis present in many of these poems,nhi “FLirvest,” for instance, the poet describesna return to his deserted home:nEvery year in late July I come backnto where I was raised,nto mosey and browse through oldnfarm buildings,nover fields that seem never tonchange,nrummaging through a life I can nonlonger leadnand still cannot leave behind, lookingnfor reliesnwhich might spring back to thatnlife at my touch.nOne can go home again, if only in memory.nStill, in spite of mental homecomings,n”time marches / in a double column,ndouble time,” and loss is one of thenfew certainties in our frangible lives.nFrom the death of a boy’s pet toad to thenburning of a dead horse to the agingnfolks at church, “the old / insistent ritualsnof decay unfold.”nHowever, like Applewhite, Taylor findsncause for celebration and joy, as in “Canticlenof Created Things” (from a prayernof Saint Francis of Assisi) and “Buildingsnand Grounds,” with its lesson of thenneed to cultivate the place that has beenngiven us: “I will still make something / tonsustain me here in this alien land.” Applewhitensuggests that various strategies—prayer,nlove, work—can help usnendure and prevail.nLauranee Weider inhabits a cityscapenremote from the world of Applewhitenand Taylor. Weider portrays eccentricncharacters whom one often associatesnwith large urban areas; his world includes,namong others, a foot fetishist andnnna waitress whose bedside weapon is anhammer. Some of his characters, however,nare more disturbingly familiar in theirnmiddle-class attitudes, like the husbandnand wife in “Gertrude and Samuel,”nHungarian immigrants whose obsessionsnwith material goods and social status arensatirized (but in a way that leaves theirnhumanity intact).nWhat Weider has in common withnApplewhite and Taylor is his focus onntemporal process—“the yellow bone ofntime,” as he refers to it in one poem—nthat subverts both physical continuitynand epistemological certainty. Loss andnmutability are the subjects of several poems,nwhether these concern lovers whonseparate or parents who must negotiatenmiddle age and modify their ideals. Innspite of pain and ruin, however, onenmust still choose life: “Though I knew /nthere was no love / without parting, Inchose you.” Our saying yes to life allowsnus the possibility of finding “the higher /nJoys, which live quietly, in gratitude.”nTime not only kills but gives us thenchance to sing our songs of belonging.nThe poet effectively makes this point inn”Water Is the Mother of Ice”:nI keep the dull and weekly hours.nRecord the natural equations, andndecoratenThe earth with songs to draw thenstringsnOf my relations, which tie me tonother men.nTo the earth, my own body, andnthe stars.nThough he faces realistically mankind’snfoibles and the pathos of our mortalncondition, Weider joins Applewhitenand Taylor in celebrating our “relations”nthat transcend time.nThese three poets thus share a sensenof the contingent nature of human existencenwhich is counterbalanced by an appreciationnof life’s richness. One comesnfrom reading these volumes with anheightened awareness of our commonnlimitations and possibilities, and the welcomenrecognition that good poetry cannstill be found even in the cultural wastelandnof postmodern America.nColUe Owens is an assistant professor ofnEnghsh at DeKalb College in Atlantanand poetry editor of the ChattahoocheenReview.nMARCH 1995/37n