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.

Cover Art by Meg G. Freyermuth



After Ahmaud Arbery 3.23.20

His arrival here
cut one background
from another.

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
his sweatshirt
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
cognitive distortions.

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.
Which one 
pried her open
to count the empty spaces?


How do you find a diamond ring in the lake?
Hit bottom.
Start in the middle.
Spiral out.


find tim on Insta

Hear Tim reading these poems @ 1:04:44


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.

Cover artwork: “Queen Magdalena” by Meg G Freyermuth © October 2017



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:

here’s the info:

here’s a blog post about my work in preparation for the reading