Out of the Blakean-like forges of the imagination in Book of Urizen, comes Paulenich's Blood Will Tell. From the invocation in "Love of Iron and Fire," "[m]ay my tenses be perfect, my participles past,” the poet strives for, and beautifully achieves, "words familiar as workboot creases, / words for the love of iron and fire." The poet forges each poem from the ore and slag of the human heart. Poems such as "Hiawatha and Hardhat" take their settings from the hellish National Malleable, where "the men eat sand, each breath sparkles with silica." Some poems, like "Biggart Family Reunion," extend outward to generations of workers and families, evoke how heroisms and hardships have defined their lives. Still others, such as "Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company, Night View, Campbell Works" and "Floating Labor Pool," explore the aftermath of this way of life, where only rivers remain, "serene / as in a fairly tale or horror story." Paulenich's achievement in Blood Will Tell is far more than a steely romanticism of labor itself. The collection moves, poem by poem, not only to explore the vanishing landscape of company houses and mill works in our nation’s rust belt, but to remember those who made families there, made lives--and made steel. Put your hardhat on. Read these poems as you would James Agee's and Walker Evans’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Read them. Each poem, every word sputters aflame with iron truth.
Drift of the Hunt, and its central personae the Goat-Man, grows from mixed soil, the Appalachian foothills of South Carolina and Georgia; Shamanism and Shinto; Eastern European folk tales; the foundries and steel mills of Western Pennsylvania; the belief that there is a very fine line between humor and horror; and Gary Snyder's admonition that the poet should have one foot in the Paleolithic and one in the present.