The Dead Get By with Everything
||A rural Minnesotan with Icelandic roots and a passion for music, Holm energizes conventional free verse with a variety of subjects ranging from Midwestern American politics to Bach's Goldberg Variations. The result is a book of eccentricity, charm, and, occasionally, great beauty. Noteworthy poems include "The Icelandic Language," in which there is "no industrial revolution;/ no pasteurized milk; no oxygen, no telephone;/ only sheep, fish, horses, water falling./ The middle class can hardly speak it"; the moving prose poem, "Brahms' Capriccio in C Major, Opus 76, No. 8"; and "Piano": "the hand moving in these sensual ways,/as if black dots and lines on paper/ were directions to make love, notes attached/ to little hammers in the blood for him to strike." Some fine short poems are also included . "Learning Icelandic," for example, captures in eight brief lines the dizzy dislocation of being cast aloft in a language not one's own.