David Clewell's graceful, honest lines accumulate and remind us that poems can be as tangible, as substantial, as redemptive as those things the poet will t let go unspoken in the world. His compassionate witness is born out of immersion in doggedly bittersweet particulars: the cock-eyed wisdom of 1950s science fiction movies; Do Not Disturb signs; vegetarian physics; the perils of bed-and-breakfast lodging; flying saucer disciples; what to do in case of Rapture; Debbie Fuller, reluctant childhood angel; the theory and practice of Spontaneous Human Combustion. His passionate transformation of that raw data into song - matter how fragile or raucous - provides irrefutable testimony about the consequences of being thing less than human, where every day someone crawls out of his ocean of sleep / and takes those first tottering steps on the planet again / he's playing with real fire. And with Clewell's insistence on the unlikely grace in that condition, along with the generosity of his unabashed inclusiveness, his poetry is a powerful antidote to the bad medicine we're too often asked to swallow. By turns tough and tender, feisty and nearly serene, this poet travels some of the darkest roads between the brain and the heart, singing his way through even the darkest stretches. And in these times, where there's always a better-than-even chance of rain or psychic wreckage tomorrow, it's small thing: Clewell imagining whatever light, still believing that some of us are t about to be stopped if we can help it, t / this time, w that we're finally getting somewhere. This is a book of sustenance, of fresh assurances that come to us - ready or t - out of the blue of this spiritedpoet's most engaging work yet.
David Clewell is the author of six poetry collections, including Blessings in Disguise, a winner in the National Poetry Series. Clewell teaches writing and literature at Webster University in St. Louis. He has been named Poet Laureate of Missouri.