In his fifth full-length collection, Jim Simmerman creates an elegy-in-verse with technical mastery, wit, and passion. American Children's thematic pillars are bridged by three sequences: one of free verse poems; another in traditional and not-so-traditional forms; and a third of "miniatures"—brief verse snapshots, arranged in pairs and processions. By turns lyric, narrative, and meditative, the poems in this collection range in tone from the formal tribute of eulogy to the keening and cut-up of wake.
I can still hear the lights going out
in your voice, can still feel the clutch
of us slipping.... I've been tripping
lately maybe too much on the wrong
turns we make nearly daily and mainly
how easy to get so stuck on some one
-way street we never arrive at where
we meant to go. So, here's the thing:
If I tattoo a ring of Celtic knots
to the third finger of my left hand
(do I linger at all in the wings
of your thoughts?), would you care?
If I ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross
(it's a long, long ride), are you there?
“Simmerman has always had a curious, charming and self-conscious relationship with his reader. But it is Simmerman’s craftiness in form and language that most distinguishes his work. Most winning is that Simmerman’s poems resound with the true remorse and grief of living, with the wonders to be discovered in the mundane, and with the hard-won insight that ‘there’s always something/left to give so long as you give a damn at all.’” —Alison Hawthorne Deming