a Hole in the Light by Lucas Jacob
Anchor and Plume, 2015; 45 pp
Reviewed by Robert Torres


As its title suggests, Lucas Jacob’s debut chapbook, A Hole in the Light, deals principally with presence-in-absence. It is not the kind of book you blow through in one reading. Rather, it’s the kind of book you keep on your night stand and read piece by piece. Many of the poems are slow, and they are better for it. Perhaps Jacob’s greatest strength is in expanding moments and minutia into universes of their own. “Survival Tip #1: Living through the Night” reads:

So strike fast, you said, not hard.
Allow stone to graze metal, to touch it
as if by accident. Do not

romanticize the softness
of the nest you have built to hatch

All this is born of the singular moment of striking a flint against steel. One of the strongest poems is the very first, an emotionally charged piece called “Recurrence.”

but a smoothness all the same; not a smoothness
but a chill as of fruit on a day
of air unmoving; not a chill but
anything that could be turned to stone. Flesh;

Jacob’s poetry is meditative in the classical sense, leading the audience to seek out moments and see how much can be draw out of each one. As a result, few of his poems move quickly from one place to another, but an exception to this rule is “Compromise.” It starts with windshield wipers speaking, and then moves to a songwriter, to a house, to a lesson to be learned from a frightened rabbit.

easy metaphor here, though this one
feels apt. Walk untroubled where
and when you can, no matter your
footing. To slip is to have no choice
but to reconnoiter . . .

As suggested in “How to Teach the Writing of Poetry,” Jacob is in fact a teacher of poetry as the high school level. The effect on his work is that his fundamentals: words, moments, lines, are all solid. There are very little typographical gimmicks or syntactical play in this book, but it nonetheless reads as a solid collection of still-life and portraiture.