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In Memory of a Banyan Tree: Poems of the Outside World: 1985 to 2022
Three Wooden Trunks
The Country Where Everyone’s Name Is Fear: Selected Poems
At the Edge of the Western Wave  
  Carlos Reyes

ISBN 978-0-9717265-6-7     $16.95  /  $18 (Canada)     5.5 x 8.5       

120 pp      
PUB DATE: Spring 2004       Poetry


What I love about this collection is that it catches perfectly that special sense of rural Ireland which might be described as mixture of raw satirical humour, tragedy, and a kind of yearning for love and connection in a society that feels a constant tension between materialism and spirituality. At the Edge of the Western Wave is a big and sweeping enough collection to be able to accomodate these themes and their nuances: I’m constantly amazed at the way in which Reyes can present a small detail—a shop-front, a “wink” of light, an Hiberno-English phrase, a name, a place name—and evoke a whole way of life.

What’s even more important, though, is that there’s a clear sense of Reyes as a poet making his way through the shoals of Irish sensibility, first as a stranger with a stranger’s alert, even amazed, eye, but later as someone who has become strangely at home in the west of Ireland, but still not losing his alertness for the lyricism of the quotidian. This is a very impressive book.

—Ger Killeen

About the Author

Carlos Reyes

Poet and translator Carlos Reyes lives in Portland, Oregon when he is not traveling. He travels a lot, and whether he journeys to Panama, Spain, Alaska or Ireland, those experiences inspire and inform his poetry. In 2007 he was honored with a Heinrich Boll Fellowship, which gave him time to write on Achill Island in Ireland. He has had fellowships to Yaddo and the Fundación Valparaíso (Mojácar, Spain). He was poet-in-resident in 2009 at the Lost Horse Ranger Station in Joshua Tree National Park, and recently writer-in-residence at the Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska.

In the Post Office Tears Pile Up, Unopened

He still works at the grain elevator
in Topeka. Pushes a grain shovel

all week, drinks away Saturday,
goes to late mass on Sunday.

She never heard from him,
for these twenty-some years a spinster.

He emigrated to America, was
to send for her when he got settled.

In 1949 he wrote he’d found work,
would send her passage.

But the village postman was given to drink
and forgetful. When he died in 1971

the shocked villagers found
dozens of letters stashed

behind the desk, slipped into corners.
Her long awaited letter like the rest

Undelivered, unopened . . .
Sean’s address in America blurred
from the damp of the Post and Telegraph.
Maeve’s name faded from his memory

by the Kansas sun.


Alive, Alive Oh!

—for Tonja Larsen and Judy Fisher

At the bar words in Irish
sough between publican and customer.

He looks our way, a fisherman up
since six this morning,

abandons his half-finished pint.
Foam slides down the glass

like the tide falling away
from the stone quay a mile from here.

Uncertain of his landlegs, he staggers
away toward hearth.

We finish Guinnesses at our ease,
return to the carpark.

A man sells mussels from a burlap bag
out the boot of his car.

On the road through Letterfrack village
the freshly laid tarmacadam sizzles:

smoke and fog burn away
the soft evening sky.