By Tommy Pico, reviewed by Laura Eve Engel

“Being protective / of yr recipes is only natural. Things get stolen,” writes Pico in the latest installment of his Teebs series, a wildly generous, clever, and vulnerable epic that cannot help but give itself over—to spring in New York, to tall and handsome men, to friendships and mixtapes and book-tour audiences and even to you, “dear reader,” though “Yr easy to love but hard to get close to.” Raised on “an Indian reservation east of San Diego in a valley surrounded / by mountains that slice thru the clouds like a loaf,” both Pico and his Teebs alter ego know about the necessity of self-protection and the fragility of ownership. This book-length poem offers wide-ranging considerations of both with hunger, humor, and humility. “Poems light up corridors of the mind, like food. […] / I am about to eat an orange. // Every feed owes itself to death. Poetry is feed / to the horses within me.” To experience this book is to be shepherded along a path of breathtakingly honest and painful growth by a charming, compassionate tour guide and companion, one whose voice deepens and develops as it considers what, in our darkest moments of disconnection, remains shared: “Yes, there is utility / in this loneliness This is how I be with / You, dear reader, on the other / side of my words on the other side / of my worship.”

This review originally appeared in the Books Noted section of American Poets, Fall-Winter 2019.