David Daniel


Monday, she opens with her
I’d Rather Be Cockfighting t-shirt
Which suggests I forgot something
Or that she’s been in my email
Again, so I change from Honey,
I Love Jesus, But I Do Drink a Little
To something less ironic, more
Suppliant: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
1999 Tour, but on Tuesday I know
She’s pissed off that I appropriate
Everything I shouldn’t because
She counters with a deeply personal
And surprisingly direct If I Had
A Hammer, I’d Kill a Folk Musician
So Wednesday I went nostalgic
And neutral with my original
Light blue ELO: Out of the Blue Tour
Forgetting how tight and kinda
Gross it is, and when she comes
Out in Billie Eilish I’m The Bad Guy, Duh
It’s clear she’s taunting my age
And my inability to crack into her
Email, and I’m a little scared, so
On Thursday, I dig up Friends Don’t
Let Friends Live in New Jersey
, hoping,
Because we don’t, for some kind
Of truce heading into the weekend,
When we’re going to the theater, and I’ve
Pre-ordered the shirts: Rylance in MacBeth.

Turning from His Riddle Book

My son asks me
Who’s buried in your
Tomb, Dad?

And I pause
For a second and suggest
We go see

I’m there yet
Or if this is just

Another joke
Like when my dad
Told me to

Move the cracked
Stone from the
Grave top

And look inside
For someone our
Family loved once

And I peered down
and down
Until another eye

Looked up
And I screamed back
To fall in the black

Texas dust and
Everyone just laughed
And laughed

Because you love
That way too
Knowing, as you do,

That being scared
Is funny to someone, and that there’s
Always an animal

Waiting in the darkness–
All of which I didn’t
Mean to say out

Loud to my son
Whose head tilts
A little funny as

He looks at me
Through the wilderness
Of his eyes

Gathers another
Joke in his throat and
Leads me outside.

David Daniel’s book, Seven-Star Bird, won the Larry Levis Reading Prize for the best first or second poetry book of the year, and his most recent book, Ornaments, inspired poet Tom Sleigh to write, “No one in any generation is writing poems like these: smart, visceral, and immensely pleasurable to read.” He has just completed a new collection, What Love Is, which is where the poems here come from, as well as a book on music and poetry called Spellbound: The Tangled Lives of Words and Music. His poems and essays have appeared in A Field Guide to Prose Poetry, The Poetics of American Song Lyrics; The Library of America’s Anthology of American Religious Poetry, Connotation Press, APR, and Memorius. Daniel was the poetry editor of Ploughshares for more than a decade while teaching at Emerson College. He is also the creator and producer of FDU’s WAMFest: The Words, Art, and Music Festival. WAMFest has been celebrated for its progressive arts programming by the National Endowment for the Arts, and has featured Bruce Springsteen, Robert Pinsky, Chuck D, Rosanne Cash, Talib Kweli, Neil Gaiman and dozens of the most important artists and writers of our time.

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Fall 2021