Margot Mifflin
May 17, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Mother Said

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Hal Sirowitz
genre
Poetry

We gave it a B+

According to an old Jewish proverb, ”God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.” Poet Hal Sirowitz’s late mother indeed poked into every single nook and cranny of his life, dispensing advice, assigning blame, and laying much of the groundwork for Mother Said, a highly entertaining collection of poems. ”Don’t stick your finger in the ketchup bottle,” ”Don’t walk over a subway grating,” ”Don’t swim in the ocean while it’s raining,” cautions Mother Sirowitz throughout this book, promising dire and surreal consequences. Her epigrammatic admonishments are alternately comical, touching, and deeply irritating. Unfortunately, Sirowitz’s poems about his love life fall somewhat flat by comparison; his mundane sexual longings don’t hold a candle to his mother’s pathological ruminations on dust, dating, and death. B+

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