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The Milk Hours: Poems

  • Fester Einband
  • 88 Seiten
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Praise for The Milk Hours "Mysterious, ethereal . . . [James's poems] retain this feeling: souls rooted in the ground." The Millio... Weiterlesen
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Praise for The Milk Hours

"Mysterious, ethereal . . . [James's poems] retain this feeling: souls rooted in the ground." The Millions

"James is a poet of staggering lyricism, intricate without ever obscuring his intent. Quite simply, The Milk Hours announces the arrival of a great new talent in American poetry." Shelf Awareness

"The poems in this luminous volume shift effortlessly between lexicons and registers . . . James's skillful craftsmanship makes this a memorable debut." Publishers Weekly

'Home is a question,' writes John James in The Milk Hours, a remarkable debut in which sorrow leads to an astonishing intimacy with the world. The speaker is pensive but inquisitive, bewildered by the loss of a father and renewed by love and parenthood. Art, science, and travel, like mortality, become tethers to the elegant and chaotic truths of our world. The Milk Hours is a moving and urgently crafted testament to resilience and to beauty.Eduardo C. Corral

The titular poem in John James's debut collection refers not only to the luminous hour of infant nurture, although that is its occasion, but to the violent loss of his father, an event distant enough that 'snowmelt smoothes the stone cuts of his name.' James's searing attention is upon the fleeting, the untethered, upon fecundity and decay, the cosmic and the molecular. These are also the poems of a young father's daily life in the wane of empire, who wishes 'to remember things purely, to see them / As they are,' and who recognizes in what he sees our peril. 'The end,' he writes, 'we're moving toward it.' James is, then, a poet of our precarious moment, and The Milk Hours is his gift to us.Carolyn Forché

I can't remember a collection of poems with a greater variety of trees in it than The Milk Hours, or one that has left me so conscious of the centrality of the tree to human history, or for that matter, to humanness itselffrom the microscopic branches of our nerve endings to the vast tentacular dust lanes of the galaxy we live in. Impeccably constructed, profoundly felt, and every bit as gorgeous as it is full of powerful observation (a candlewick's 'braided cotton converting to ember,' dead stars that throw 'cold light through the black matter / of millennia'), The Milk Hours is a startlingly mature, exhilarating debut, and one whose urgent evocation of the past and confident reaching for what lies ahead ensure it a prominent place in our present.Timothy Donnelly

The poetry of the earth is intensely alive in the poems of John James. In this luminous first book, there are poems of a son and a young father. Many of the best inhabit a tormented Kentucky landscape where there is a field with horses, a house and a barn, a flooding river, a cemetery where a parent lies, and bees or flies hovering. Out of the sorrowful fragments of personal history, John James has a created a book of unusual intelligence and beauty.Henri Cole

Praise for John James

John James does as that first singer did, Caedmon, who sang because he was told he must do soa song of praise, of animals and life, of land and blood and time. Such work is wholly personal and completely anonymous, embedded in the very life and limb whose limits it also astonishingly resists.Dan Beachy-Quick

An unflinching observer, John James writes with a patient honesty and a lyric beauty that will leave you ringing.Ada Limón

John James's poems dig deep as he asks us to join him at the edge of his excavations, to see what he's unearthed, and we can't help but look until we see it too.Portland Book Review

John James is the author of Chthonic, winner of the 2014 CutBank Chapbook Award. His poems appear in Boston Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, Poetry Northwest, Best American Poetry 2017, and elsewhere. Also a digital collagist, his visual art is forthcoming in the Adroit Journal, Quarterly West, and LIT. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he is pursuing a PhD in English at the University of California, Berkeley.

Winner of the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, The Milk Hours is an elegant debut that searches widely to ask what it means to exist in a state of loss.

We lived overlooking the walls overlooking the cemetery. So begins the title poem of this collection, whose recursive temporality is filled with living, grieving things, punctuated by an unseen world of roots, bodies, and concealed histories. Like a cemetery, too, The Milk Hours sets unlikely neighbors alongside each other: Hegel and Murakami, Melville and the Persian astronomer al-Sufi, enacting a transhistorical poetics even as it brims with intimacy. These are poems of frequent swerves and transformations, which never stray far from an engagement with science, geography, art, and aesthetics, nor from the dream logic that motivates their incessant investigations.

Indeed, while John James begins with the biographicalthe haunting loss of a father in childhood, the exhausted hours of early fatherhoodthe questions that emerge from his poetic synthesis are both timely and universal: what is it to be human in an era where nature and culture have fused? To live in a time of political and environmental upheaval, of both personal and public loss? How do we make meaning, and to whomor whatdo we turn, when such boundaries so radically collapse?

The Milk Hours
for J.E.J., 1962-1993
and C.S.M.J., 2013-

We lived overlooking the walls overlooking the cemetery.
The cemetery is where my father remains. We walked
in the garden for what seemed like an hour but in reality must
have been days. Cattail, heartseedthese words mean nothing to me.
The room opens up into white and more white, sun outside
between steeples. I remember, now, the milk hours, leaning
over my daughter's crib, dropping her ten, twelve pounds
into the limp arms of her mother. The suckling sound as I crashed
into sleep. My daughter, my fatherhis son. The wet grass
dew-speckled above him. His face grows vague and then vaguer.
From our porch I watch snow fall on bare firs. Why does it
matter nowwhat gun, what type. Bluesmoke rises. The chopped
copses glisten. Snowmelt smoothes the stone cuts of his name.


April, Andromeda

I am in this world, not self, not seed, not stamen-dusted
pistil flicking in the windthe eye sees past its limitations.
Crushed petals in the dirt, I'm courting a horse with an apple,
watching its white tail swish along the fence. Somewhere,
the galaxy spins. I smile at the cloudless sky.

Continuum of frequencies, Ptolemy's
Almagest, the star charts called it Little Cloud
chained constellations in The Book
of Fixed Stars
. Nova for new, cut fish
for never. A heart held back for the knife.

The opening of large
tracts by the icecutters
commonly causes
a pond to break
up earlier; for the water
agitated by the wind
even in cold weather
wears away
the surrounding ice.

This morning I walked past
rows of jeweled honeysuckle
twining through the square
links in an aluminum fence.
They glistened in the sun,
as they always do. You
could say their vines shuddered.

Photographed by Isaac
Roberts, 1887, again
in 1899, the galaxy, the ruler
of man, the pearling
spiral takes its name from
the area of sky in which it appears.
Sussex, England, retrograde motion.
The daughter chained to a rock.

We forget rapidly what should be forgotten. The universal sense of fables and anecdotes is marked by our tendency to forget name and date and geography. How in the right are children to forget name and date and place.

Pained lovelinessthe sonnet
sweet fetter'd.
Morning, still, couched
in narrativecarrots
taken from my palm. Horse nose,
its silken touch, teeth against the skin.
The eye sees the mind sees
crushed pedals in the pestle.
All parts are binding.

man wearing a crown,
upside down with respect
to the eclipse. The smaller
figure next to him sitting
on a chair. A whale
somewhere beneath it.

By ear industriousattention
metmisers of sound
and syllable.
See kale, see
rows of collard stalksthink
Cassiopeia. Think arrogant
and vain. Greek models, sea
monster Cetus, the errant study of.

I shall ere long paint to youas one can without
canvasthe true form of the whale

my parts are all binding
as he actually appears to the eye
I wonder, now, how Ovid did itI pass that matter by.


Driving Arizona

Saguaro in headlights, we touch like foreign bodies.
Sedona recedes against the sky's aperture.
Roll the covers off, the coldness in Williams
Aren't you afraid? I'm afraid, too.
Wanting to know you, thinking I do,
Thinking of the miles unfolding before us,
The highway beating through rows of golden cacti.
I want to remember things purely, to see them
As they are without the urge to order.
To take the pictures down, and say what hurts.
Say we're able to enjoy this more than we ever did.
Somewhere behind us, the mountains slope off.
Sunrise breaks over fields of whitened heather.
Let's only sit and listen. Only stare at the open earth
Without saying why. If approximations are the best
We can dofine then, let's approximate.
Home is a question and we're drifting from it.



My light bulb is gone.
It was dying anyways.
The room goes dark
before I sleep. I lie
eyes closed, listening,
hoping the radio waves
cause only one type
of sick. My bed's
not safe. The feathers
in my pillow came
from a factory in Beijing.
Their birds fly east
in the shape of a V.
On the edge where
my mother sat reading
a bright picture book
something has taken
her place. My father's
mouth, which I lost
years ago, speaks
from a jar on the shelf.
I ask my mother
what she did with the light.
She says it's
under the bed. I ask
my father why
he can't hear. He tells
me he's underground.


The Milk Hours
History (n.)
April, Andromeda
Poem for the Nation, 2016
Klee's Painting
Le Moribond
Spaghetti Western
Story with a Shriveled Nipple
Driving Arizona
Catalogue Beginning with a Line by Plato
Delaware, I-95
At Assateague
Kentucky, September
Clock Elegy
Years I've Slept Right Through
Fig. 1: Botany
Poem Around Which Everything Is Structured
Fig. 2: Roots, Tumble
Heirloom (Wreck)
Other Adam
Fig. 3: Colonialisme
Beneath the Trees at Ellingsworth
Forget the Song



Titel: The Milk Hours: Poems
EAN: 9781571315083
ISBN: 978-1-57131-508-3
Format: Fester Einband
Herausgeber: Milkweed Ed
Genre: Lyrik & Dramatik
Anzahl Seiten: 88
Gewicht: 227g
Größe: H218mm x B145mm x T18mm
Jahr: 2019