The Countries We Live In


In stock

poems by

David Radavich

Poetry book, 92 pages, cover price $14

ISBN: 978-1-59948-440-2

Release date: December 2013


DRadavich_PxDavid Radavich’s poetry collections include Slain Species (Court Poetry, London), By the Way: Poems over the Years (Buttonwood, 1998), and Greatest Hits (Pudding House, 2000). His plays have been performed across the U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway, and in Europe. America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (Plain View, 2007) narrates our nation’s history from World War II to the present, while Canonicals (Finishing Line, 2009) examines “love’s hours.” Middle-East Mezze (Plain View, 2011) explores a troubled yet enchanting part of the world. Radavich has published a wide range of articles on poetry and drama and has performed in such locations as Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Iceland, and Scotland. Winner of numerous awards, he has served as president of the Thomas Wolfe Society and the Charlotte Writers’ Club and is poetry editor of Deus Loci.


The Countries We Live In. What a wonderful title. Of course it means geographical places like America with its materialism, its politics, its inequalities. But it also means the human body, that country we inhabit for better or worse, that aging country. It also means the people we know and love, those whose countries we live in or who live in ours. I love both the theme and the range of this book, its multitude of countries all of which are crucial to our lives. “Every Day the World Starts Again” the opening poem tells us. The mystery, the complexity of life begins again, and that, David Radavich tells us, is our task—to live each day as fully as possible in those countries that are given to us to know, to inhabit, to celebrate.

—Anthony S. Abbott, author of If Words Could Save Us


“I don’t want to take your time / for what is not essential.” Lean, clean-lined, economical—yes. But the poems in The Countries We Live In are not minimalist. They do not evade their subjects; they are not wisps and hints. Here are piercing observations, wild surmises, pulsing thoughts, “adventure and test,” often with a sharp spice of humor. David Radavich has discovered the Country of Sudden Insight and has decided to live there. And thrive.

—Fred Chappell, former Poet Laureate of North Carolina


David Radavich reveals The Countries We Live In with an all-seeing and wry eye and tender sensitivity. In this collection of lyrical journeys from such disparate places as war-torn 1975 Belfast to sun-kissed Corfu, Radavich savors the beauty of nature and the mysteries of human nature. From our wheat-gold Midwest to Pawleys Island, where the “moon pulled down its scythe,” poems examine the splendor and the heartache of our lives, how each day “lovers recover their skin.” The music that moves these poems is the lonely dance, the human condition his words so honestly portray. Loss and desire are ever near from sonnets to politics, from the love of guns to objects that “hide us from ourselves.” With Radavich, we travel the “heady wine of sea and history,” and when we close these pages, we are “heavy with departing” and ready to begin again.

—Diana Pinckney, author of Alchemy


A shopkeeper hoists baskets
with a pole, a waiter

polishes silver teapots
wearing gloves,

a thin smoker
in high heels swings

hips by
like signposts.

Even the morning

knows the sun has arisen,
work begins anew

as yeasts rise,
steam kisses grates

and lovers
recover their skin

like saints
following prayer.

Food will again
enter bodies,

will gather air

the way
gases swirled

before astronomy
ached in the aerosphere.



We are the un-select,
those not favored

by any god
among the victors.

We are not asked
to join a team,

we lose so
others may lord it,

our soil is stolen
without acknowledgment

so those expanding
can feel gain.

Our food
tastes of leavings,

our blood circulates
in dry channels.

Sun shining
on us is not golden

but a kind of glare
seeing grief.

Even at night
sleep is fitful, a mouse

is stealing a last morsel
and the moon eats

itself thin

with plans for
the full awakening.



This creaking boat rocks unevenly
from open sea again to gathering shore,
moves us strangely heart-ward over time,
a hungry bird still pecking out its meals,

I’m no swimmer in this flash of water,
yet the twisted oar-locks hold us steadfast
in these bodies, in these sacred barriers
we call ourselves, that ache in moving, leaving

all behind, this pilot twosome that has chosen
us drifts somewhere wavelike and complete,
the palm trees at our left and right bend
then hallow like days assorting under the sun,

passengers who look so much like us alight
and stand uneasily among the scents of night.

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