Using deceptively simple lines that raise common life events to art, Tony Gloeggler fills his new collection, The Last Lie, with people who don't fit in easily, naturally. It's a book filled with cripples, the one boy in a working class house who kept a book under his bed, schoolyard superstars, the last white man left standing in Bed Stuy, basement songs of love and desperation, the rhythm of the crowded F train, developmentally disabled men, and one boy with autism. He's the guy who sat in the back of workshop who knew that Springsteen, Thurman Munson and Brian Wilson will always mean more to him than Shakespeare, Ginsburg and Ashbery, but who still wants to write a poem that's better than the ones you were forced to read in school, a poem that will hit you like a punch to the gut, but only if a punch could be somehow tender too.
It's a book about the quiet ones, the ones you don't notice, the ones who never raise their hands to volunteer, shoot up a classroom or do a victory lap after making the game winning play. They don't blame their parents for anything, and they never learned how to walk across a crowded room to talk to a pretty woman or how to ever ask anyone for help. It's how they go through the days trying to find places and people, no sorry, just one person, that can help them feel at home with themselves. It's all about loss, love, loneliness, lust, the power of memory and what's wished for and missed. The Last Lie is about your life. Exactly. Only different. Worse. Better.
Without the plumpness and pretension that characterize much of poetry's latest wave, Tony Gloeggler remains a glaring original. In achingly direct, unflinching stanzas he deftly chronicles the everyday, paying tribute to Everyman and his ordinary wisdoms. For years, reading Tony's work has been my guilty pleasure—now, finally, I'll have to share him with the world.
Tony Gloeggler's world is so precise it's mythic: pre-yuppification outer borough, Puerto Rican flags sold from the back of a Bonneville, fat Italian deli heroes, fathers who make their living "with their hands or backs." It's a volatile and complex place, where history bulls its way into marriages and daydreams. Gloegger's eye is so clear—he's such a virtuoso at probing the small choices that create our identities—it takes a second reading to realize how high the human stakes are, that it's extraordinary rather than ironic when "a backyard 6-year-old whacking a wiffleball" is "as close to God as I'll ever get." The Last Lie is a terrific book, beautifully empathetic, tight, and understated.