Physicists sometimes say they are looking for "God's Equation." In EPISTLES, Mark Jarman makes of language a powerful spiritual calculus, writing profoundly inventive proofs for the central mysteries of our existence. The tone is by turns dry, witty, passionate, somber, whimsical, and more-permeated always by a lucid intelligence. Intimate addresses to the reader, the poems issue from a speaker who at times resembles your next-door neighbor, at others an angel or prophet; sometimes all three. Whatever the guise, we seem in the presence of one of God's messengers, speaking in a familiar idiom. And though he will not lie to make us feel better, he has our best interests at heart-he brings good news. "God," Jarman says, "has committed you to memory."

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