Station Zed

An existential meditation in four sections and informed by journalistic sojourns in Lebanon, Libya, and Iraq, Sleigh’s ninth collection is interested in complicating notions of time, war, justice, and spirituality. He interweaves an homage to Bashō with an elegy for the devastation seen in Iraq and creates a surreal narrative about the tyranny of an emperor: “The AK wants to tell a different truth— / a truth ungarbled that is so obvious / no one could possibly mistake its meaning.” Sleigh’s skepticism withholds easy conclusions regarding parenthood, political atrocities, and the self. Sonically, he amplifies the language of the everyday with startling turns of consonance and rhyme: “percussive as a run / on a nomad’s flute of bone / while a car engine dangling from a hoist and chain / sways in a translucent gown of rain.” Station Zed attempts to illuminate urban war zones, and in carefully chosen dispatches of news, it’s not only Sleigh’s eyes, but his heart that can’t turn away.

This book review originally appeared in American Poets, Spring-Summer 2015.