"In Andrew Merton's view of poetry, brevity is the soul of wisdom. His poems are compact. He likes plenty of white space around some image or pithy utterance ... Merton is like some elderly neighbor, someone we pass on the street for years without a second look, someone who-when we finally exchange a few sentences-seems to be thinking and worrying about many of the same things we have, someone we would like to spend more time with from now on." -Charles Simic
The confluence in the title of this debut collection from Samantha DeFlitch describes the meeting of three rivers, the Monongahela and Allegheny which come together at Pittsburgh to form the Ohio. The three sections of her book are named for these rivers, and there are many poems of place here, the author's home turf, its backroads and bridges, state lines, amusement parks, a town called Zelienople, even Pittsburgh itself, depicted most provocatively as a city of accidental lesbians. But as a gas station attendant says when she answers where she is from, Nobody lives in Pittsburgh, an observation that shifts the register from the physical to the psyche, and to a different sort of confluence, the way in which we are all products of everything that has come before and come together to form our lives. DeFlitch depicts this in the construction of her poems. There are many recurring images and motifs, of oranges and blackbirds, dogs, pierogis, gas stations, concern over the aging of parents, of aging herself, of a boy named John who put a bullet in his head because he didn't want to grow old --and of folding chairs that turn up everywhere, such a brilliantly efficient exemplar of the temporary. She repeats words, lines, even nearly entire poems, and in this manner her poems resemble merging waters, full of ripples, eddies, swirls, back currents of detritus, endlessly forming and reforming over time and space.