Boom Box is filled with poems calling to a past, a childhood in Alabama listening to hair bands and watching Star Wars and Indiana Jones. It describes this world, familiar to many of us, with sincerity and affection, but not through nostalgia. These poems are tender and true, but they’re not stupid in their love. Buy here.
From “Portrait of My Brother as Indiana Jones”
All a young man has is his faith in hard work, / the belief that if only he can count / the grains of sand in a fist-sized sack, / things will turn out as he hopes— / that when he returns home / there will be quiet afternoons / and a girl in a sweater with love on her eyelids— / yet every adventure ends / in the same weary surprise, / the same aching temples / when the poison darts fly, / when the floor drops from beneath, / when fatherhood looms and the bills come due, / when vision closes in from the corners, / when the dark mass requires surgery, / when they cut open his skull / because the only threats that matter / were inside all along.
From “Cigarette vs. Cookie”
My mother is leaving. My father is leaving. / We are all leaving, that’s the only truth. Someone / rhymes their fists against the hood of a rusted white pickup: // knuckle-bruise and raised-voice—am I in the truck?
From “Crimes I Did Not Commit”
I have never been erased from the plot. / Never held a gun. Never climbed to the top / of the rusting girders to stare down / at the quiet water, the marking rocks. / Never imagined I could change the world / by disappearing. I did not pretend / to find God because I did not believe / this would persuade a girl to touch me. / If I did, it did not work. This is not / that kind of story. This is not a confession. / This is a heart growing wings and taking flight, / up above the scrub pine and water oak, / hurrying out ahead of the storm.