cover of book

Inverse Sky
by John Isles
University of Iowa Press, 2008
eISBN: 978-1-58729-727-4 | Paper: 978-1-58729-686-4
Library of Congress Classification PS3609.S58I58 2008
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

Part Baudelairian flâneur, an Arcadian shepherd, the speaker in John Isles’s brave new Inverse Sky encounters a fragmented history. It is nineteenth-century California, and the missions are still burning after the Americans establish the Bear Flag Republic; it is the twenty-first century, and the miners of 49 are relegated to a mural in an arcade. Both a loner and a lover, Isles’s pilgrim-poet takes us on a journey where Native Americans are “missing persons” outside a diorama of their ancestors, then sets us adrift in settings ranging from film noir to the clear-cut hills of modern-day California landscapes, under siege but not defeated.
     Inverse Sky evokes the paradigm of a shocked and disbelieving child dealing with a broken promise, yet the poems carry within themselves the knowledge that promises will be kept. The only response to broken promises is “to come undone / to come and go in a single breath.” But this is a beginning as well as an end. Each poem becomes a new world—for if there is anything on earth worth loving, it is something made with the world as it has been handed down to us. Inverse Sky is an insistent effort to "love the things not loving back.”

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