In Patrick Rosal's third collection of poems, themes of violence and beauty often coincide within the narrative. Rosal ends one poem in the collection, "Little Men with Fast Hands," with the simple statement "the history's deep." That history includes reflection on family, gender, nationality, and an examination of the poet's own lineage through odes, parables, and elegies, among other modes.

Though the poems of Boneshepherds are located in a world where violence and hardship persist, they are also the vehicles for displays of human connection and outreach. Terrance Hayes, in his praise of Rosal, points out that "[e]very heartbreak, grief, and outrage is laced with a hopefulness born not just of Patrick Rosal's tremendous gifts as a poet, but of his humanity." These moments of hopefulness are what carry the reader through, providing lasting emotional substance, even in the face of pain. From "Undrowning":

We can't call up all the wreckage of generations.
Do not forget you are witness
to ascent. Tonight, sleep
well.When solitude calls
it doesn't mean to kill,
but offers the kind of sight one earns
when you've lain a long time still.


This book review originally appeared in American Poets, Fall 2011, Issue 41.