Shannon Jonas offers up to us a sacrifice of the slaughtered ruins of his own ancient innocence. The poems in The Rake stopped dripping with blood a long time ago and have been honed by the elements to sing with the sharpness of a wind cave made of bones. Unwilling to give up on the lyric, Romanticism, or the ancestors of poetry, The Rake is a continual encounter with the past, with innumerable pasts, like Borges’ futures, a flux of labyrinths transposed upon the ever-present moment of the visionary watching and seeking “to be something alone & outside of what surrounds us.”  Stripped of artifice, unapologetically willing to turn to the archaic to realize the present, almost unnoticeably skillful in turns of line and word play, these poems step beyond the static-y echo chambers of the technology age in which “words I learned unmade me” to commune with the remnants of nature in order to be remade as we once were, innocent as the un-mythologized origins of humanity, or, as Jonas puts it, “I can explain it this way, un-beautifully.”

Matthew Henriksen