by Cyrus Cassells
Four Way Books, 2024
Paper: 978-1-954245-80-8 | eISBN: 978-1-954245-81-5
Library of Congress Classification PS3553.A7955I8 2024
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.54

Cyrus Cassells has perfected a poetics of merciful vitality and tenderness, celebrating eros — in his daring and prolific representation of lust, yes, but more broadly in his understanding of the erotic as an affirmation and preservation of life — through time and space. Beginning his latest collection with the piece “You Be the Dancer,” he bids us return to sacred sites of nostalgia, insisting on it “whether we’re feeling frisky, /  Empty-handed, / Or still beguiled by inchoate dreams—.” Is There Room for Another Horse on Your Horse Ranch? is the apotheosis of Cassells’s work to elevate the mundane and the bodily to the exalted, his vigorous lyrics a routine ecstasy. Though our senses lay us bare to suffering, they also create the possibilities for pleasure and connection, the basis of — and rewards for — humanity. “My Only Bible,” Cassells pledges, “is this blood-red joy / Of breathing beside you,” “The gospel of bougainvillea / At your boyhood gate” which perfumes “the soul’s endless, luxuriant / Coming and becoming…” Gorgeous and wry in its portrayal of transformational romance and queer selfhood, Cassells’s ninth book of poetry reads as an anthology of love letters to people and places across the world. Cassells revises an old premise: is it better to have loved than lost, or is that love, once bestowed, is never lost? A champion of the flight real intimacy requires of us, Cassells addresses a beloved, “You’ve just died in my arms / But suddenly it seems we’re eternal,” the joie de vivre and bravery of his perseverance made immortal through the poem’s titular declaration — “I Believe Icarus Was not Failing as He Fell.” If in these pages you see the crash, the poet seems to say, remember the flying, too, “the giddy Argonauts we were.” 

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