The well-crafted lines in Michael Lauchlan's Trumbull Ave. are peopled by welders, bricklayers, gas meter readers, nurses, teachers, cement masons, and street kids. Taken together, they evoke a place-Detroit-in its bustling working-class past and changeable present moment. Lauchlan works in the narrative tradition of Robert Frost and Edwin Arlington Robinson but takes more recent influence from Philip Levine, Thomas Lux, and Ellen Voigt in presenting first- and third-person meditations on work, mortality, romance, childish exuberance, and the realities of time. Lauchlan presents snapshots from the past-a widowed mother bakes bread during the Depression, a welder sends his son to war in the 1940s, a bounding dog runs into a chaotic street in 1981, and a narrator visits a decaying Victorian house in 1993-with an impressive raw simplicity of language and a regular, unrhymed meter. Lauchlan pays close attention to work in many settings, including his own classroom, a plumber's damp cellar, a nurse's hospital ward, and a waitress's Chinese restaurant dining room. He also astutely observes the natural world alongside the built environment, bringing city pheasants, elm trees, buzzing cicadas, starry skies, and long grass into conversation with his narrators' interior and exterior landscapes. Lauchlan's poems reveal the layered complexity of human experiences in vivid, relatable characters and recurrent themes that feel both familiar and serious. All readers of poetry will enjoy the musical and vivid verse in Trumbull Ave.
Wayne State University Press