You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake

In her second book of poetry, Anna Moschovakis presents an engaging lyric analysis of the contemporary frameworks people live within. Ideas about choice (and indecisiveness), consumption, comfort, indulgence, and the evolution of collective vocabularies are explored, using the rhetoric of Internet-speak, ethics texts, historical anecdotes, and argument. A section of the book, "The Human Machine," introduces the character Annabot, who seemingly inhabits two worlds—one in the flesh and one in the digital realm. From "ninth: a conversation between Annabot and the human machine on the subject of overpowering emotion":

ANNABOT: ...The brain is a machine of habit. The heart is a hell.

HUMAN MACHINE: The secret of smooth living is a calm cheerfulness which
          will leave me always in full possession of my reasoning faculty.

ANNABOT: But I am not cheerful.

HUMAN MACHINE: I ought to reflect, again and again, and yet again, that all
          others deserve from me as much sympathy as I give to myself.
          I place my hand over your heart.

ANNABOT: I cannot feel your hand.

HUMAN MACHINE: I cannot feel your heart.

Though human responsibility is at its center, this work avoids didacticism, instead offering questions, scenarios, and glimpses of the many angles of communication and agency. Moschovakis asks, in one poem, "What can a grammar kill?" and in another, "Would I die for logic? / If my death would make the world follow?" Dodie Bellamy writes "I didn't believe I could delight in a poetry of cultural critique until I read [this book]. The four serial poems in this collection wrangle with issues so big and painful that the mind reels; yet at times I found myself laughing out loud."

This book review originally appeared in American Poets.