Max Ritvo was a prodigiously gifted poet; toward the end of his life, he was also volcanically productive. Nothing he wrote was without flashes of brilliance, but many of these late poems would surely have been revised or jettisoned; it was slow work to sift out the very best. This he asked me to do—it seemed to me an essential labor lest the weaker poems dilute the stronger. What follows, obviously, reflects my judgment. Nothing has been revised; Elizabeth Metzger, Max’s designated literary executor, suggested one minute cut. Cancer was Max’s tragedy; it was also, as he was canny enough to see, his opportunity. Poets who die at twenty-five do not commonly leave bodies of work so urgent, so daring, so supple, so desperately alive.