El Paso poet & publisher BOBBY BYRD passed away on July 11, 2022. He was a friend, mentor and hero to me, the TATER. In this week’s MONSOON DOWN THE RADIO we hear jazz and 4 poems by Bobby; also in this episode 2 poems by Palestinian poet Mohammed El-Kurd. These are the jazz artists we hear in order: US Air Force Academy Falconaires, Chuck Mangione, Jimi Tenor, Ron Carter, Houston Person, Bob Flourence, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Terry Gibbs Dream Band, Ron Carter, Cedar Walton, Jack DeJohnette, Bob Brookmeyer, Dennis Coffey, Sara Serpa, Matthew Sheens, Jazz Q Praha, Egba
Reverence for the women in the poet’s life, stealth bombers, a juvenile cougar strangled on the trail and plenty of blank space on well-organized pages come together in The Pieces You have Left, Staley’s second full-length collection. Echoes of recent giants from Mary Oliver to bell hooks, musical quotations from Lucinda Williams to Miles Davis, support a collection distinguished by winningly colloquial titles: “I’d Like to Teach the (Tone Deaf) World to Sing,” and “The Solid Beams and Poles That Support Society Are Cottage Cheese, Mostly”. Staley hits that sweet spot of subtle, real vulnerability to keep you engaged in surprising ways. He often writes to honor the dead, among them a mother-in-law who, in the late 1960s, left the convent with an acoustic guitar on her back and decades later: “moved to New Mexico and gave everything but her clothes to a family who lost their home in a fire.”
This collection was a Finalist in the 2021 Hillary Gravendyk Prize poetry book competition sponsored by Inlandia Institute of California, and was featured in the Harlem Book Fair 2021.
“Staley writes from personal experience but elliptically, jumping and omitting details to make the individual parts more suggestive. Each poem comes across as a collage of pieces though the pieces all relate to the whole.” -Joseph Somoza
“The Pieces You Have Left. Those are some good poems. The poem for Suzanne is exquisite ‘promise and surprise’! YAHOO” – Bobby Byrd
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Published in 2021 by Beatlick Press : Oaxaca, Mexico.
After Ahmaud Arbery 3.23.20
His arrival here
cut one background
Five hands sprung
from each of his wrists.
I wipe the ashes
off the armoire.
I light a new stick of incense
Morning Star Mellow Pine.
He sits on my sofa
The muscle spasm in his leg
ribbons the room.
From the corner of my eye
slung over a chair back.
His Oral-B toothbrush
Black and White Thinking 6.17.21
At the end of a long day Civil Warrin’,
Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson
sat together in a plush loveseat
and soaked their feet in the same tub of Epsom Salts.
And they murmured, they murmured to each other
and puttied in
and sanded off
and painted over
the great flaw they shared,
that hardy, ubiquitous facade they shared
with every slave holding heart.
My therapist told me,
Black and White thinking
is the first of ten
Growing up privileged and white
in Montgomery meant
there were no Blacks
outside and beyond
my service partition; the solution
to a Confederate calculation--
witness the cleaning gesture
of a brush
that’s filled with paint.
In this stanza a Black person
doesn’t ring me up at Books-A-Million,
doesn’t fry my chicken at the frat house,
doesn’t ladle my gravy into a mountain lake
of mashed potatoes at Memorial Presbyterian Church,
doesn’t dip my cone at Dairy Queen on Atlanta Highway,
doesn’t drain my oil at Jiffy Lube in Bay 3 in Mountain Brook.
Phyllis Wheatley—America’s first
Black poet—was enslaved
by the Wheatley family.
They said she was seven
because of her teeth.
pried her open
to count the empty spaces?
How do you find a diamond ring in the lake?
Start in the middle.
find tim on Insta
The 2nd full-length poetry collection, The Pieces You Have Left, by Tim Staley is coming soon!
Space travel, masculinity, war, sterilization, death of friends and family, Gila Wilderness shade, Covid-19, white flight in the Deep South and fatherhood are some of the starting points.
These poems were mostly composed between 2016 and 2021.
Tim Staley is a poet based in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He was born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1975. He founded Grandma Moses Press in 1992 and continues to serve as editor. He is faculty at Organ Mountain High School.
This collection will be published by Beatlick Press : Oaxaca, Mexico
Beatlick Press was founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2011.
AFTER JACOB BLAKE
After the medical aid
After the helicopter
After immediately to Milwaukee
After lengthening up through the crown
After gravel shaped like twilight
After tailwinds through the reeds
After the pelvic floor
After a mother tells her daughter, never say
the Lord’s name in vain
After, who’s name then
am I supposed to say?
Hola y’all I am doing a poetry reading Wednesday OCT 21 2020 5:30 PM MTN on a zoom call hosted by the Albuquerque poet Mary Dezember. Do you wanna hear some new work? I might just break down crying. That happens on some of these pandemic poetry reading zoom calls. I’ve seen some of the best poets in my country weep between their poems–We’ll see what happens with me. It occurs to me this weeping stuff might not be the most sexy advertisement for a poetry reading. Ha. You know me ~~~ I’ll still try to be funny. somehow.dig it: