The eagerly awaited new poetry collection by Mary Jo Bang, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
We were told that the cloud cover was a blanket
about to settle into the shape of the present
which, if we wanted to imagine it
as a person, would undoubtedly look startled—
as after a verbal berating
or in advance of a light pistol whipping.
The camera came and went, came and went,
like a masked man trying to light a too-damp fuse.
The crew was acting like a litter of mimics
trying to make a killing.
Anything to fill the vacuum of time.
—from "The Doomsday Clock"
The Last Two Seconds is an astonishing confrontation with time—our experience of it as measured out by our perceptions, our lives, and our machines. In these poems, full of vivid imagery and imaginative logic, Mary Jo Bang captures the difficulties inherent in being human in the twenty-first century, when we set our watches by nuclear disasters, species collapse, pollution, mounting inequalities, warring nations, and our own mortality. This is brilliant and profound work by an essential poet of our time.