Ross’s poems are at once earthy and delicate and view their subjects through a perceptive, picaresque lens.
“Bowers v. Hardwick” from Company
I’ve learned cause and effect.
I know because the parade-float
is outside my window, brass snorkels
catch the light of the sky like a bell.
There will be pieces of pink paper
in the street, and some will melt
after the day’s rain and some will burn
on into the night. How could it be otherwise?
I know we endured all the words—
and we must forget them for now,
as if they were skywriting, fading white.
Some urge us, some warn us not to transgress
what is deeply unspeakable.
But then, who am I going to talk to here?
Someone turn on the radio, someone
sing with me—please.
Or we can just spend a day
drawing dirty pictures of each other.
There’s time. Wasn’t it you
who promised me the music would last
“Ross pitches nothing less than stubborn belief in tenderness and in the patience both to look everywhere for it and to trustingly wait for it (‘I would learn rare//and love and want and wait./I had to start at the beginning.’) This a debut both tough and tender, the poems of a man who’s been made to look away from the world plenty, and has found a way to look steadily back.”
“…Sam Ross is an important poet because he writes of important matters: the life and death of kindness, survival under attack, the exquisite price of humanness….”
“…The poetry of Company displays a clear care for precision and a delicate approach to sentiment. Ross’s stanzas often break quickly, and his concision brings a gentle musicality to many of the poems here. Ross’s style allows his images—the terrible and precious alike—to emerge vividly. Company is a promising first collection, one that passionately offers argument for pursuing certain connections—perilous as they may be—and never loses sight of the work such connection requires: “I would learn rare // and love and want and wait, / I had to start at the beginning.” Read the full review.
“…With violences remembered and inherited, the poems in Company present a layered meditation on what it means to live openly and optimistically in a world that still, in many ways, hasn’t changed. The book’s treatment of the past, of its fickle nature and enshadowed murkiness, tonally results in an easy detachment that may or may not endear the speaker to the reader. Sometimes the coolness draws you in, sometimes it’s alienating. This is not so surprising, though, when you consider the dangers that often come with intimacy between men, whether in the public sphere or in the privacy of a bedroom. A certain kind of distance, after all, has kept us alive.” Read the full review.