These poems speak an odd nostalgia for what turns on, in, and alongside the world. A tragedy of loss, a miracle of eroticism, or a comedy of road kill, Odd Bloom Seen from Space looks at the self amid the ashes of fleeting exultation and uncertainty. The speaker tells stories with wild candor on matters of heroic inadequacy while searching through his obsessive questions for greater meaning.
But it’s in the act of discovery, through the hero’s immediate ancestry, that Welch’s debut collection confronts big questions about family, music, art, and memory. Like a contemporary Diogenes who pursues meaning one small gesture at a time, Welch comes to learn truth is a “brutal commerce,” beauty is “white legs / upon which she shed her childhood,” time is “Michael Jackson / hooting in the trees,” and “Love is gradual, a bottle / by sips, a bottle / poured onto the floor.” There is wisdom to be gained from these inventive pursuits, but in the end it’s not what is said, but how it’s said with terse rhetoric, deep imagery, and surprising humor that makes Odd Bloom Seen from Space such a gorgeous, original, and baffling collection.