“The future is throttling towards us and it’s loud and reckless,” warns Erika Meitner in Holy Moly Carry Me, her fifth collection of poetry. She cautions: “We are under the care / of each other and sometimes we / fail mightily to contain the damage.” Though deeply in conversation with the past and present, Holy Moly Carry Me also grapples with the uncertainty of what’s to come in spaces rampant with mass shootings, racism, and war: “I have two sons, and / I can’t protect either / of them from anything / at all.”

Meitner writes boldly and unapologetically about the public sphere, but each poem is as intimate as it is grand. For instance, one poem about helping a stranger choose gift wrap at a dollar store turns into a meditation on several of the book’s major themes—memory, truth, love for one’s neighbor, religious faith, gun ownership/violence, motherhood, infertility, and adoption to name a few.

Her sense of humor is on display throughout as well: in “Post-Game-Day Blessing,” the speaker chaperones her son’s first-grade class through a college campus littered with discarded G-strings, beer cans, and condom wrappers and she blesses each item in turn. And if we are ever unsure how sarcastically we should read these crude blessings, by the poem’s end, we believe Meitner as she praises the winning team for “being able to hold on despite / the onslaught.”

As much as anything, Holy Moly Carry Me is about navigating the world’s disorder (“the space between the hole and the holy”) and finding a way through the brokenness—finding “in our actual steps,” as one poem’s speaker puts it, the “song / that’s not quite song.”

BOA Editions.

—Review by Josh Luckenbach