Poetry chapbook, 32 pages, $10 cover price
Poetry chapbook, 32 pages, $10 cover price
Christopher Cessac was born in 1967 in Corpus Christi, Texas. After studying literature and history at Texas A&M and graduating from The University of Michigan Law School, he received an M.A. from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. His poetry has appeared in The Antioch Review, Black Warrior Review, Cimarron Review, Kenyon Review, Poetry Daily, 32 Poems and elsewhere. His previous book, Republic Sublime, won the Kenyon Review Poetry Prize. He lives in Texas with his wife and children and works as a writer, lawyer and musician.
Encountering the locations in focus throughout the pages of Christopher Cessac’s Eros Among the Americans, I’m reminded of Richard Hugo’s “triggering towns,” as particular places with names suggesting literary allusions also exist in a sensitive poetic imagination, one that ignites lyrical language and engaging images or incidents evoking surprising elements, as well as expressing genuine emotions, which generate rewarding and powerful results for readers.
author of Seeded Light,
editor of Valparaiso Poetry Review
Eros Among the Americans offers a geography of poetry that bears the longing “to sing of inexpressible things.” These poems give new words to love and the obstacle-strewn world in which we seek it. (“No dictionary gets it half right”). Cessac taps into something vital, something real, as we visit his imagined towns, and he deftly convinces the reader that wherever we have been we’ve not yet arrived where we’re going; we straddle that old divide between the familiar and the strange. This is a collection of poems both reassuring and edgy, accessible and delightful, poems as clear-headed as any tango with the muse will allow.
–James R. Elkins
Having found the ecstasies of flowers
and fruit bring worms, insects, so much
hurt, some trees will choose to stand
bare and alone. We will always be unhappy
lovers-trying to set fire on fire.
Something west pulling us, Last Chance
Gulch to here, to learn again
even mountains have a lowest point.
To want you yesterday
as evergreen red cedars must
want the stars last night–the past
keeps us. A great divide
and a long highway back
to Helena. Most beautiful,
most everything, most, most . . .
Youthful judgments hunt us forever.
The old wish for youth, not years.
By love we mean confuse. Take pity on us,
nothing is left to take. Confuse us. Take war,
for example, every war, and leave. Blooms,
berries, that pageant of sex and birth
made sense once–we were young and wise,
drunk on greed and good wine we saved
too long. Vinegar, bare trees. Winter
is a thing we each face in our own way.
Do you sleep alone? The loneliness
we find in others can be a great comfort.
Troy was not undone in a day. The small
and quiet blows that build and build.
A great divide and a long highway back
Loving, New Mexico
Let that burning wheatless dust spit gas at us
and let the more efficient tend to their just-soiled
dinnerware–who faced with eternity
would not tremble? Let the temperate grovel
in our wine-soaked mud, let flowers come
by armful to decent old lovers-no horror or joy
unsettles us now. Let it burst or collapse,
the whole world, its rose petals and grease traps–
The doors locked, our limbs knotted, in love
with love-let them all burn slow with envy.
We keep poor records. What matters most
happens so slowly no records are kept at all.
Sad, not tragic. The evidence against romance
grows weak with the years, as years gain strength.
Unpaintable beauty versus all those millions
of paintbrushes and still paintbrush factories
are busy as ever, even now, even as we lie
to sleep. Venuses and Cupids, mere children
of salt and dust, parading lust and want, flaunt
a promise of desire that only fools the young
and the old and especially the middle-aged.
There are times the world and I get along
and times this North Fork of the Bad Axe
River is not just enough, but too much.
All that remains now of Romance
is the Romance Tavern and its buffet.
Old age, work, marriage, children–
Romance was abandoned for the usual reasons.
What matters most happens so quick no records
are kept at all. Call it coincidence, convenience
or romance, but this valley cutting quietly
through forest could be excuse enough
for now, for us. There are so few reasons
to be alone and there is so much night.