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Mark Neely
BEASTS OF THE HILL
Winner of the 2011 FIELD Poetry Prize

Paper $15.95
(ISBN 978-0932440-44-0)

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Like the seventeenth-century Dutch painters who divided the space of their framed canvases into repeated geometries of rectangles and squares and light, Mark Neely writes poems that play four-square with poetry—and with the heart. And like those Dutch interiors, his poems are at once intimate and timeless. They issue from a mind as fierce as the hawks "who circle the dead earth, waiting for some small thing to move them." These are poems with a calling: they paint our lives in twenty-first-century light, "half falling, half in flight."
Angie Estes

In Beasts of the Hill, Mark Neely works in small spaces where the slightest moves have seismic consequences. The acoustics are sensational, and the modest and laconic gestures of the poems (like a grandfather who lifts "one Midwestern finger from the wheel to say hello") are also vehicles for the flights and fugues of a "glorious attack." Neely's lines can be fundamental or extravagant, sober or infused with metaphysical light. Wonder and "furious desire" are the engines that drive these poems, which shatter distance, space, and time into manifold presences both intimate and strange. Neely has the chops and the voice to sing the blues.
Bruce Smith

Mark Neely's insistent, persistent meditations—multiple takes on everything from flights to fences, dirt to dreams, wheels to woods, fields to falls, threads to the dead—add up to nothing less than a mandala of the human spirit. Here is a companion to take you on a walk, "shoulder over foot, shoulder over foot," into the prairie, into the unconscious, into the abyss, one staggeringly powerful image at a time. I need this book: "I have eaten fifty thousand tulips, waiting."
Robin Behn

 
Cardinal

May not be rare but I’m the bird of Illinois,
Indiana, five other states to boot. I shake

my mottle, stink, flutter, and squeak
an off-key song—a grave noise

like your oldest smoker saying wheat.
You have to have the nose for it, or ear,

the eyes for it, one for each flap of your hat.
It's under there you keep requirements

for houses, for the dolls your daughters plead
for on your holiday—you paint it

red, right? Huff around in green sweaters.
That's how you celebrate your noble dead?

I flash lung blood against the sky instead,
or kindle in the brush, your furious desire.


*****


Eighteen Hours

Bound to a chair I quivered
like the feathers on a wobbly

arrow but stuck
to my story

as a President
will hold a losing war

in his arms like a horrible,
red-faced child

and love it. You said
I was shaking—

nothing would convince
you otherwise, but it was

the nation like a cornered
lunatic shaking all of us.

Copyright c 2012 by Mark Neely. May not be reproduced without permission.


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