Used Book Arrival: Blessings in Disguise

I mentioned in a recent post about David Clewell that I had been reluctant in my younger years to buy and collect poetry books. I wanted to buy something that had the poem We Never Close in it, so I found this book available used on Amazon (and in no other form – no Kindle, certainly not new).

I mentioned that I wanted to buy something that contained We Never Close. It took a bit of a leap of faith, because this book didn’t have a table of contents online. Still, just look at that cover. There’s got to be a poem about a diner in there somewhere, right? I also hedged my bets by finding a collection that came out after his poem was published first in the Georgia Review (1989). And sure enough, the poem was in it.

Continue reading “Used Book Arrival: Blessings in Disguise”


I read a book on spiritual discipline
sitting in the cigar store
but I didn’t inhale.

Going home the pleasing aroma
was a whiff of tomorrow’s day-old
sacrificial stench. I showered,

practiced a song about
relationships that need to end,
proud of hitting the right strings,

Continue reading “Bedeviled”


For J.H.

But you’re the diffident one
who has trouble looking me in the eye
and we sit out back of my house
you smoke and get your throat down a half-step
(use a capo; you’ll live longer I joke)
and you go out there night after night on the road.

I slip a hundred dollar bill in your case when you’re not looking
And wish I had made more of myself.


I baptized men all day, my
limbs tiring, shivering with cold.
Toward evening the teachers appeared,
seeking baptism.

Absolution, not repentance.
Or just to laugh at me – my
sight does not extend to hearts.

I had a vision of snakes in my river,
blood and dirt in the water,
never clearing, God striking me. I said:

Continue reading “Confirmation”

Pantoum: Taking Leave by Slack

for T.S.

I really want to keep in touch with you.
Congratulations on your new role.
Let me know your personal address.
Your contributions did not go unnoticed.

Congratulations on your new role.
The time you brought in the big hitters,
your contribution did not go unnoticed.
I liked how we seemed like a team.

The time you brought in the big hitters,
we brought in food and they observed
how we seemed like a team.
You said to say “yes and”, not “yes but”

Continue reading “Pantoum: Taking Leave by Slack”

Belated tribute to David Clewell

Another sign of my brain waking up again after a long hibernation: I started thinking about a poem that was very influential to me in the late 1990’s – early 2000’s: We Never Close by David Clewell (To read the entire poem for free, create a JSTOR account).

My own internal reading of it has always been a lot more deadpan; listening to this reading by Clewell himself helped me pick up some rhythms to this poem that I’d never quite picked up on.

David Clewell reads We Never Close, from an audio CD collection he created There’s Going to Be Trouble.
Continue reading “Belated tribute to David Clewell”

Real Life Update

A few lines from a pleasantly frittered evening yesterday.

I got a new job recently which features the lowest amount of busy-work and license plate making since the early 2000s. Truthfully, I’m not sure I’ve ever had it so good. If I can get organized I’ve got some angsty poems to write about how the past decade nearly broke me, but for now I will look on the bright side and say I’ve got it pretty good.

Another thing which has brought peace and joy to my heart: I deleted practically all social media from my phone and tablet. This has forced me, with only minor relapses, to read books, and there is something about the process of reading paragraphs and sentences and not reading the angry musings of stupid narcissists that starts tuning your brain up for writing better.

Continue reading “Real Life Update”

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