A poet of the working-class and city streets, Jim Daniels’s 14th poetry collection travels from Detroit to Ohio to Pittsburgh, from one post-industrial city to another, across jobs and generations. Daniels focuses on the urban landscape and its effects on its inhabitants as they struggle to establish community on streets hissing with distrust and random violence.
She was stymied by pizza, but not
by ice cream. She ordered vanilla
for its sound. She reigned as Queen
of the Isle of You Decide.
He had the patience of a splinter
working its way to the surface
and the business sense
of a herd of cattle.
She used her checkbook
to prop up every minor purchase.
He used cash for the benefit
of its traceless disappearance.
In short, he was a bad magician
and she the nervous assistant,
a match manufactured in a damp swamp.
Yet they set off enough sparks
to produce me out of a hat,
dazed by their applause.
Technically, I can’t remember
that far back, but I can make up
a few things, given the lack
of memory and receipts.
“The poetry of Jim Daniels springs from a deep well of compassion for the working class, their plundered cities and their plundered lives. His sharp eye surveys the landscapes of Detroit and Pittsburgh, his uncles struggling against alcoholism, his aunts scraping by on the wages of fast-food restaurants. His clear voice speaks for the fallen, from the company men who played by the rules and lost anyway to a child killed in a hit-and-run accident. Yet the poet finds dignity and redemption in the grace of baseball or the consolation of the human touch, spirituality in spite of churches, love in the mist of pesticide.” —Martín Espada
“Jim Daniels keeps getting better, going deeper into his lived life to find there the language of celebration, lamentation, victory, defeat, moral ambiguity, and political and social outrage. He curses what needs to be cursed, he blesses what needs to be blessed, and he stands in silent awe and wonder at the world turning about him, a world of unaccountable suffering and unaccounted for beauty. And while that world resists Daniels’s best efforts to be made sense of, complex as it is, giant as it is, it can’t help but yield its music to his gifted mind and impassioned heart.” —Li-Young Lee
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2013