“It is the essence of McKee's work to be rich in artifice and craftsmanship and informed poetic strategies while at the same time consistently brave in its presentation of two confrontations: a person's with himself and that person's with the world outside himself. To read McKee is to witness drama and struggle; if the art is hard-won, the human victories are, too. McKee is a bracing and welcome poet, whose artistry and accomplishment must not go unsung.”
STILL LIFE w/Trailer
Lou McKee doesn't have a can of soup on the pantry shelf, nothing he can set in its place, in its light, in its moment. Lou is happy for a bird's visit. He takes a small lamp off the wall and climbs into bed with it under the covers to read. He thinks a finger cut on prayer must burn like the bite of paper. He looks down, remembering cartoon feet spinning like blades clear of the cliff. He swims as long as it takes to apologize for staring. Thinking of nothing but hips, he lays his own hand over someone else's. Lou steps into one kind of shit, or another, keeping his mouth shut. In love, or just about, he tries to tell you in forty words or less. He thinks about the Greek, Archilochus, and still has his skin, standing behind a girl with wonderful hair. Juno's breast-spill. At fifty he is still unable to forget the sixteen year old girl he thought he loved when he was eighteen. He met a man in a bar who said he killed a man. And now he's one of them, the people he used to laugh at. The present tense of these rivers insist they see him coming.
From the book:
You are not going to find
a bowl of fruit, a complication
of shapes and color, to sit
on the table near the window
where light and shadow
can track across them.
This is a bachelor's home,
a servile place, and bowls
of fruit and vases stuffed
with greeny grasses and bright
shocks of color are not its world.
I don't even have a can of soup
on the pantry shelf, nothing
I can set in its place, in its light,
in its moment, and catch in my art.
The dog as always is stretched
on the floor beside the chair--
or is he disqualified, what
with his legs sometimes twitching
like he's chasing rabbits
in a happy dream, or because
his tail wags, usually just the once,
as though letting me know from
time to time that he's still with me?
Louis McKee has been a fixture of the Philadelphia poetry scene since the early 70s. He is the author of Schuylkill County, The True Speed of Things, and ten other collections. A selected poems, River Architecture: Poems from Here & There 1973-1993 appeared in 1999, and new work was published in Near Occasions of Sin in 2006. Gerald Stern has called his work “heart-breaking” and “necessary,” while William Stafford has written, “Louis McKee makes me think of how much fun it was to put your hand out a car window and make the air carry you into quick adventures and curlicues. He is so adept at turning all kinds of sudden glimpses into good patterns.” Naomi Shihab Nye says, “Louis McKee is one of the truest hearts and voices in poetry we will ever be lucky to know.”
is a 28 page hand-stitched chapbook.
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