In apartments, Aaron Tucker draws us into the construction and deconstruction of sentence, structure and relationship, and the pulsing of space within and among them. Tucker uses technical (biological, mathematical, architectural) imagery without rigidity, challenging the reader to see a broadening ribcage as an edifice at risk of crumbling, a skylight or potted palm tree as a particle of the city, while avoiding trite personification. Nothing about apartments is heavy-handed. The transition between brick and bone is so subtle it surprises after the fact.

But what’s most striking about this short poetry collection, nominated for the 2010 bpNichol Chapbook Award, is its pacing. Not only is the cadence consistently strong across a range of poetic forms, but the work as a whole is skillfully constructed. The book begins with architectural subjects (a promiscuous building with cable innards “only interesting to/its tightened belly and those/who have wandered through lobby/found an elevator entered”), transitions to a story of human connection revealed though a vignette of furniture assembly (“attach particleboard (2 and 3) to legs (1) using corners attach pieces to hover using bricks screw buildings to windows losing teeth losing instructions (14) attach linger to dishes…”), and lands back in the realm of buildings, bringing with it the energy generated by the fumbling nascent relationship.

Tucker’s ability to compel the reader forward, or to pull the reigns so quickly we don’t see it coming, left me wishing apartments had ended in a crescendo or a drop. Instead, it slows to steady breaths, the final passages reading almost like a poetic essay, with the return of articles and conjunctions and none of the urgency of the earlier poems. (Jennifer Marston)

Chapbook, Aaron Tucker, The Emergency Response Unit, [email protected], $8