Building the Tank

Max Ritvo

I love them because I am good at them.I thought of no rooms. In every stage of building, as I laid
down lines of glue, as I clamped the light, as I poured gray
pebbles, I saw life for them like detectives unburdened from
the duties of going from room to room.To be good at them means that, one day, my shadow, that
difficult marvel, will pass through water, where there is no
light, and come to be a delectation, rippling into the fish that
are like wounds, feeding them closed, and bringing quiet.

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Max  Ritvo

Max Ritvo (1990-2016) was the author, with Sarah Ruhl, of Letters from Max. His first collection of poems, Four Reincarnations, was published by Milkweed Editions in 2016. His chapbook, Aeons, was chosen by Jean Valentine to receive the Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship in 2014. Ritvo’s poetry has also appeared in the New Yorker and Poetry, among many other publications. (Author photo by Ashley Woo)

“Even present tense has some of the grace of past tense, / what with all the present tense left to go.” From Max Ritvo—selected and edited by Louise Glück—comes a final collection of poems fully inscribed with the daring of his acrobatic mind and the force of his unrelenting spirit.

Diagnosed with terminal cancer at sixteen, Ritvo spent the next decade of his life pursuing poetry with frenetic energy, culminating in the publication of Four Reincarnations. As with his debut, The Final Voicemails brushes up against the pain, fear, and isolation that accompany a long illness, but with all the creative force of an artist in full command of his craft and the teeming affection of a human utterly in love with the world.

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