Time and Materials
The former U.S. poet laureate’s first verse collection in a decade begins with many short poems. (The William Carlos Williamsesque opener of Time and Materials, ”Iowa, January,” runs only two lines: ”In the long winter nights, a farmer’s dreams are narrow/Over and over, he enters the furrow.”) Robert Hass’ compositions tend to grow longer as the book proceeds. The brief ones are elegant and vivid. The lengthier ones, lacking much in the way of meter or metaphor, are prose-y and mostly tedious — alternately earnest (”Bush War”) and silly (”I Am Your Waiter Tonight and My Name Is Dmitri”).