For the first time my friend Charlie is beginning to get a few negative reviews. I'm here to dispell the rumors that he has lost his touch. This book, as well as his last, Walking the Black Cat, is evidence that he is still one of the best. The main contention has been that the typical Simic surprises are no longer surprising, that he has repeated himself one too many times. There isn't a single poet who isn't guilty of this poetic crime, and there are times that Charlie does come very close to sounding like the Charlie of old. Yet I still think the ultimate judgement comes not in a comparative judgement of a poem or group of poems against the entire body of work (though it is useful to do so), but whether single poems stand on their own. This is, of course, hard to do given the poet's intentions to group poems into the volumes that he/she makes available to the public--we can only judge by what we are given. But poems like "Live at Club Revolution" are fresh because of the odd combination of images Charlie is known for. The address is similar, the reference to a nightclub as a setting for an historical event is also something we've come across in Charlie's poems before. But once the poem begins it bears little to no resemblance to any other. And this is interesting to note considering that once, quite a few years ago, Charlie wrote another poem with the title "Jackstraws," which bears no resemblance to the title poem of this volume. Yet the game itself the title comes from illustrates a thematic interest that is ongoing; that one stumbles upon a scene of such quiet and danger--whether the danger of upsetting a pile of sticks delicately placed on a table in a game much like Jenga, or the real danger of those war scenes Charlie has become so famous for remembering--is something that must be visited over and over, yet never without some kind of subversion. To deceive oneself into a feeling of safety, joy, fear--this is the aim of his language.