The book arranges all but the first piece into three numbered sections. Presumably this poem will act as a lens for the later works, so I may refer back to it throughout the month.
Starting with mostly equal line lengths, then grouping itself into ten couplets, this piece definitely looks like a poem. A quick comparison shows the importance of that choice, "Try this: head south on Mississippi 49, one-by-one mile markers ticking off another minute of your life. Follow this to its natural conclusion--dead end at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches in a sky threatening rain." Does this strike you as poetry? It is, so let's try a little experiment. Interpret the above quote.
To me, the reader is being told to imagine himself on a long drive that stops not when he chooses, but when the road ends, i.e. at death. The ocean represents that end, but as a storm rather than a peaceful rest.
Now consider the quote with line and stanza breaks:
. . . . Try this:
head south on Mississippi 49 one-
by-one mile markers ticking off
another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion--dead end
at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches
in a sky threatening rain. . . .
How do the linebreaks and stanzas change or enhance your interpretation? For me, it doesn't. In particular, my ear and mind want to compare the breaks at "Try this:" and "Follow this", but the effort seems wasted. If I treat the repetition as a reinforcement of "this", then the result feels like finger jabbing rather than legitimate underscoring to reveal the significance of the referent. On the other hand, contrasting "try" and "follow" adds nothing to the meaning and seems like an unintended and unnoticed accident of the poet's choices.