Thoreau would probably have liked the poems in the first section of Michaelson’s collection. In Reverie near White Rock, New York, he describes “a backwater town near bridges and ditches…wearing prefabricated homes like so much costume jewelry. These used to be the places they called ‘quaint.” And Emerson would have liked the suggestion of the Oversoul in the poem Seasons Going North:
Smoke blends in with the sky with the air full of cool, with a sudden drop in temperature, like an incantation
However, the later sections contain darker poems that move away from nature as metaphor, to statements related to the tragic vision of life;
Tragedies, like being buried alive, are: being declared insane and unable to prove otherwise… realizing late in life that most decisions were wrong.
And then Michaelson turns to eroticism and its ironies:
Yes, I am checking you out on Simchas Torah You are sweating, you are dancing, your breath stinks of vodka, Your white shirt is plastered to your chest, Its buttons are partly undone, You look like an entrant in a Yeshivish wet t‑shirt contest.
The last few poems view lust as a form of prayer, and learning as seductive:
When you are studying you involuntarily open your mouth just a half an inch as if to drink up the juices of the text.
The merging of seduction and love and their connection to God is handled in a highly original and totally personal manner which is refreshing to read.