"Dead reckoning allows for drift, which accounts for our wayward/claims.” Which would explain the constant anxiety the future presents in this work. In Ted Pearson’s scalpel-like critique of the voyage, each word a careful enunciation of where the line has been, there remains the constant question of where it will go and what it will become. For just as Emily Dickinson once asked, “Is my verse alive?” so Pearson, with every word, challenges us to face down (if quietly and with grace) the dormant future. And it isn’t metaphor. Pearson is all-too-aware of the tenuous state of our condition, our art. “The music of a lifetime is slipping away.” But there’s equally a remarkable optimism in it, for what’s truly compelling about this writing is the overt insistence that if one simply takes the time to think about fundamental things, the conditions that make possible any thought, for example, then the palpable impasse of the future or matter or fugitive flesh dissolves. As he writes, “let’s clean the reality machine and process the language it offers.” Because finally: “These are the passions to/which you aspire. If you want/the heat, bring the fire.” And in reading Set Pieces, we know exactly where to find the fire.