Soft Targets

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Deborah Landau’s fourth book of poetry, Soft Targets, draws a bullseye on humanity’s vulnerable flesh and corrupted world. In this ambitious lyric sequence, the speaker’s fear of annihilation expands beyond the self to an imperiled planet on which all inhabitants are “soft targets.” Her melancholic examinations recall life’s uncanny ability to transform ordinary places―subways, cafes, street corners―into sites of intense significance that weigh heavily on the modern mind.
“O you who want to slaughter us, we’ll be dead soon/enough what’s the rush,” Landau writes, contemplating a world beset by political tumult, random violence, terror attacks, and climate change. Still there are the ordinary and abundant pleasures of day-to-day living, though the tender exchanges of friendship and love play out against a backdrop of 21st century threats with historical echoes, as neo-Nazis marching in the United States recall her grandmother’s flight from Nazi Germany.