Cover art: City of Omens by Claudia Bernardi
The Grief Wrangler
Joshua McKinney lures untamable loss into poetic form in his award-winning new book, The Novice Mourner
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Whim, Fetish & Blogorrhea
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In "Experience," Emerson avowed that "Grief too will make us idealists." In The Novice Mourner, McKinney shows the textures and sparkles of many griefs, and proves, beyond doubt and in the direction of luminous consolation, that the textures of this world are true and that the sparkles of sunlight, even underneath the leaves, are inextinguishable.
These handsomely-crafted poems are remarkable--not only for their intelligence and use of language, but for their blend of sensitivity and strength. On his journey to recover the "lost child," Joshua McKinney's belief in innocence never wavers. At the same time, he gives dignity to boyhood's time and place, and those who inhabit it. I immediately trust the voice of these poems, the story that is being told, and I am deeply moved by it. The Novice Mourner is an achievement in that it truly demonstrates how grief can give way to a celebration of life.
FALLING ASLEEP BY THE FIRE
I am not arguing that recollected
sun is warm. The center
and circumference of memory opens
a small door
in the house's side
where my father lies down on ice.
I reach into the belly, imperiled,
for odious and irrelevant comparison:
his legs stuck out in snow
the whole house settled on his chest.
I burn the house down
with enough self-reliance, a little jazz
stoked against genetics' bitter kingdoms.
My community, kerneled,
thaws in a fevered palm; waking up,
moments ago and too close
to the fire, I imagined him
moving under the floor,
the hiss of his blue-tongued torch.
© 2005 by Joshua McKinney
The Novice Mourner