This lyrical, autobiographical romp takes the reader from the poet's childhood, to combat in WW II, to upstate New York. It is tempting to get caught up in the frank passion, the asperity and gall of these poems, but Harry Staley disrupts such a reading with a wink and a nudge. A masterwork of persona, All in One Breath is actually many breaths: the reconstructed Charles McCaffery, the retired, laconic professor Kelly, the lost Uncle Orville and others. At the center is an unstoppable wit and erudition, masked by an exacting, deceptively effortless use of language, of sound and sense. All in One Breath is among the few collections of poetry that deserve to be called essential.