By Julia Cirignano
Thank you to Button Poetry for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I’m back and kicking off the new year with a review of Michael Lee’s debut collection of poetry The Only Worlds We Know. Right away from the title, it’s clear that Lee is going to question his perspective and reality, and therefore you will too.
Lee explores the human condition from his perspective. In the mist of raining bullets and clouded grief, he struggles with his most complicated demons, and together they learn to settle some things.
Throughout this collection, Lee covers a variety of topics. I was especially intrigued by his thoughts on addition. He talks about the addicts in his life, those dead and those still dying, and then talks about his own struggle with alcohol. By doing this, he covers two perspectives and gives his readers a 360 view of the situation. It’s clear that he has envisioned his own dead, and uses other people’s stories to heal himself.
Lee asks numerous questions, each simple enough to comprehend, yet complex enough to leave you stumped.
“How much liquor can the body hold
until the body leaves itself behind?”
Within the first poem of this collection, Lee gives us a vivid imagine of two lovers in bed together. He settles into this one moment just long enough before pulling us out and asking us a questions. This control over his readers is profound.
“you fall asleep & both awaken
to a gunshot in the dark —
like a single string
in the instrument of night
had snapped —
& she crawls into your arms
for protection — but of course not the real kind,
because that bullet, if aimed at you,
what have gone though you both —
what does it mean when you realize
that all love is: a small & feeble sheather
from the inevitable?”
Enjoy some of my favorite quotes and questions from The Only Worlds We Know,
“It was the year
I remembered and remembered and remembered,
the act of remembering like sharpening a blade until
the blade is gone.”
“what is indifference
if not a kind of violence we must each survive
“The clock is a more complicated machine than the gun.”
though it is final, is also hesitant and unsure.”
us to spill poetically, in a way
that goes down easy–“