Essays

“We are the sun that melts the world.”

“Doing Time with Charles Wright”

If you were a student in the Hopkins Writing Seminars and were arrested for urinating in public after a night of heavy Barth it is possible that your restitution would include hosting a monthly poetry forum at a youth hostel as a form of community service. You might hold forth on a different poet each month until your time was served. One Sunday afternoon, Yeats. On another, Berryman…

“Singing towards Empathy,” in Entropy

Tony and I stood a few paces from the dance floor. He had been dancing and I had been watching him dance. I was grinning at times—so happy to be around him—as he jacked his body to the music. Goodness, he had plenty of dance for the both of us. I wasn’t jealous. I was grateful for the way he made energy seem so simple, the way newspapers used to be written so that a child could understand the two inch lead. Even standing with me his eyes trotted, looking at me and looking away, high, then low, and high again, like birdsong in a man suit…

“Speechless,” in Entropy Magazine

I kind of like having tuberculosis. I’m not too worried about dying. It’s an old disease, and scientists have figured out how to treat it. Takes about a year, not counting the relapses. My lungs are clear of abscesses so I can still make the stairs no problem. Actually, TB can be anywhere, like your spine. My hand surgeon told me there is a woman from Australia…

“Letters, Poems, and Combat: Keith Douglas (1920-1944),” in The Operating System

The first poems or stories anyone writes are often letters, which is why young letters—those written before the writer has developed his genre and style and voice—are helpful when looking at a mature author. Included in the Keith Douglas archive are thank-you notes to his grandparents for a crayon set, and various pleading, homesick letters to his…

“Burn Everything,” in The Common

Speaking of Southern Illinois and fishing and smoking cigars and praying when you don’t believe in anything, I got a call last week from my neighbor Larry who was having a porn barbecue. “Every year is a gift,” he told me, when he turned thirty-four. That was forty years ago. He was always convinced he’d die young, or die middle-aged, or die a few…

“A Completely Normal Life: A Look at Irish Author Kevin Higgins, His Mentioning the War  and Frightening New Furniture,” in  Chattahoochee Review, and re-blogged

We all have a little Irish in us. Kevin Higgins has quite a lot. The Galway native has a double dose, for Ireland is a country and an emotion. One even imagines some national bird, -perhaps half scavenging gull, half blue larkspur, whistling its cry: “Outrage–make-do, outrage–make-do.” Like that bird, Higgins sings from the gut, full of suffering and emp…

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