Robert A. Ayres
Poetry chapbook, 30 pages, cover price $8
($5 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)
Release date: 2012
This Limited Edition chapbook is part of Main Street Rag’s Author’s Choice Chapbook Series.
About The Author
Robert A. Ayres
Robert Ayres has published poems in journals including Laurel Review, Marlboro Review, Rattle, andSouthwestern American Literature. Anthology publications include The Four Way Reader II (Four Way Books),Is This Forever or What? (Greenwillow Books) and Urban Nature (Milkweed Editions). His essay, “The Devices and Desires of Our Own Hearts: Reflections on Blessing and Curse in the Psalms of Ascent,” appeared in Poets on the Psalms, published by Trinity University Press. Robert received his MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. He lives with his wife in Austin, Texas.
It is a pleasure to read Bob Ayres’ poems because they are unlike any one else’s. This is a chapbook of deep questioning, asking where do we fit in this world and within nature’s patterns? How can we, at times, be close to home, yet feel far away? What to make of the “bruised hour” when we must wait for the sunlight to return? Surely it will reappear and bear down upon us as the gift it is and, we too, will be like the painted bunting “besotted with sunshine and song.” These are sparse poems laden with all that language can bear–line breaks meant to snap us to attention, many poems that are double-spaced for breathing room, some with the gravity of rhyme. To question, one must be observant, and the speaker of these poems is ever alert, whether examining a dead field mouse that reveals “how bit by bit we come undone,” or by listening to the whisper of marsh grasses. And to be alert means also enduring the silence within: this Ayres does with passion and wisdom. He shows how even when we think we are alone there is mercy and comfort, for ultimately these are poems of praise for the body and spirit, the creatures of this earth, and the Maker thereof.
cross the ground
a sagging gate
shiver and bleat
Molt of the Great-tailed Grackle
Sans iridescent sheen.
Sans swashbuckle and swagger.
All the showbiz,
all the shimmy and strut,
all the whistles, clicks, and clucks,
all gone. Blotched birds
wallow in the dust
or poke around the yard
in shoddy underwear.
Even the dogs look the other way.
Shadow of Wings
What will it be like to open that door
if when I do a folded piece of paper
drops to the floor, and I bend down
to pick it up and see my name?
Remember the first day of junior high
gripping the colorless plastic tray
queasy, uncertain where to sit
in that sea of kids?
Or younger, standing at the porcelain sink
milky-white as a pre-dawn sky
hands cupped to catch the water fall?