Monday, June 20, 2016

Just want to say a few words about New to the Lost Coast by Joshua Butts. Josh has a virtuosic ear, has known, engrained in his mind and bones, the music and lyrics of the great 20th century folk and rock singers, plus Anglophone poetry of all eras, plus has an ear for all the old ways of speaking, the rural Ohio ways too. So "he has a good ear" just doesn't cut it. I appreciate the candor, and the witty incredulousness and so much beauty. Josh's wife Lesley Jenike is also a great poet, but that's for another day. Here's one of the poems from the book as it appeared on Verse Daily.

Tranquility Pike
A flash across the windshield at late day
or in the morning can make a wreck.
So if you drive here try to be as patient
as a cat waiting for a door.
You know you are helpless.
Last winter I was covered up—snow
for three weeks can dazzle. The kettle
whirred for coffee until I ran out.
I lived on tomatoes cooked quick with salt.
(We are pure blood around here.)
I'm not lonely. Heat and rain breed many weeds.
I've been sober as a bell at midnight—
is that a phrase? My talk show host has been gone,
captured in fact. His band plays a familiar waltz
and then it's morning, the heat swallows
the valley, soaks the blacktop, rises
like a camphor from the road and so I wait
on this rain and then it pours and pours.
It hits in my head and I tell myself,
This isn't the kind of rain that answers questions.
Could I take my wrong moments,
set them to some tune? If you need flannels,
I'll send you a bagful.
Give them to people you meet under street lamps.

I also had no idea this youtube existed until this very moment. I am so happy right now. I wonder whose dog that is barking. A dream come true.

Thanks to rob mclennan for this thoughtful piece about Unlikely Conditions,  here.