In these poems of taut clarity, craft, and texture, Michael Waters continues his bold exploration of sensual pleasure and moral transgression as means of affirming spiritual faith. Just as a joyride suggests recklessness and exhilaration, so Celestial Joyride is an energized journey marked by spiritual recklessness in the face of perpetual mortality. Compelling, musical narratives offer rich meaning and vivid consequence.
We set them up to flip them down, made them
Fall with a flapping sound—whirr of an ace
Slapped by circling spokes as the boy biked by,
Or the wound-up skirr of the hummingbird
Jazzing like fire above honeysuckle.
It’s the long labor for such brief reward
That puzzles, though we arranged the thousand
Black caskets heliocentrically
Until forefinger and thumb, pincer-like,
Locked up, mini-muscles cramped in a row,
Domino domino domino, so
Begged to be crooked, dumb flexing Arnolds. Clack.
I knelt with my father to watch death flow.
“It is difficult to imagine poetry could be more finely crafted and compelling than the work of Michael Waters, who has been quietly writing some of the best poetry in the United States for the past three decades.”—Stephan Delbos, Prague Post
“In lines that are often metrically formal—the decasyllabic line appears in many of [his poems]—there is often a quite wild range of emotion, from the overtly sexual to the politically conscious, the plaintively domestic to the brashly cosmopolitan. This is highly energized verse.”—Michael Broek, Poetry International
“Waters seeks to capture the different kinds of negative space which interpenetrate American public life, history, and even the most intimate of moments ‘between two bodies’—what he calls ‘the loneliness of two people / together.’”—Jonathan Taylor, Times Literary Supplement
“A significant American voice… testifies eloquently to the persistence of the lyric in a time and history that would seek to obliterate it.”—John Mann, World Literature Today“Waters excels at stark-eyed, honest elegies… all rendered in the strong free verse that is [his] signature. He is a poet of detail, but also one of directness, pursuing strong feeling wherever it dives or climbs.”—Publishers Weekly
“Waters seeks and appropriates a rich, malleable language that allows him to express the subtleties of human emotion and the realities of the human condition… Michael Waters is perhaps the best poet of his generation.”—Floyd Collins, Gettysburg Review
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2016