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Where We Arrive
MOUNTAIN & FLOWER: Selected Poems of Mykola Vorobiov  •  Translated from the Ukrainian by Maria G. Rewakowicz
  Mark Neely

ISBN 978-1-7333400-9-0
$18 / $$21 (Canada)
5.5 x 8.5
82 pp
Pub Date: April 2021
Featured Poetry

Ticker contains almost everything—religion, calamity, politics, race, love, children, the Challenger disaster, Taco Bell, Oliver North, CVS, a main character named Bruce. In these poems, which are all the time moving between the cynical and the ecstatic, Neely never once turns his half-stare half-glare away from this strange, brutal country of ours.

—Jackson Holbert, Final Judge of the Idaho Prize for Poetry 2020

 “Start with a hole in his chest.” In this concoction of what—fictional biography and alter ego?—that early line sets the stage for poems that don’t fill so much as explore the jagged spiritual hole that torments a man named Bruce. This relentless autopsy of a character is also an exploration of the hollowness of a culture that offers few means to achieve a sense of attachment or purpose, that leaves him largely on his own and feeling that there “are nothing but / desperate Bruces / all the way down.” The pressure of these poems creates a space where beauty and grace become craved, so when they show up, small moments and acts, such as when a blue heron stands “regally in the mouth / of a sewer pipe,” carry greater force and poignancy within Bruce’s world, and ours.

—Bob Hicok, author of Red Rover Red Rover

About the Author

Mark Neely

MNeely Mark Neely is the author of Beasts of the Hill and Dirty Bomb, both from Oberlin College Press. His awards include an NEA Poetry Fellowship, an Indiana Individual Artist grant, the FIELD Poetry Prize, and the Concrete Wolf Chapbook prize for Four of a Kind. He is a professor of English at Ball State University and a senior editor at River Teeth: a Journal of Nonfiction Narrative.


Reality TV

Bruce believes in everything—
even the fat Arkansan shoving his
pale hand in a river orifice
to pull an oily, boy-sized
catfish from the muck.
He understands the urge to tangle
with a horror-faced, primeval
beast and win, to suffer
the slice of a fin or bar
brawl fist, terrified of feeling
nothing. He even believes
in democracy, though it’s clear
we’re all a bunch of frightened
worms, burrowing blind and hungry
through the precarious earth.
On another channel, men live
in the wild and grow ridiculous
beards—one checks a deadfall trap
and carries the rabbit home
by its lucky feet, its upside-down
ears pricked, listening for whatever
comes after the tunneling.
It’s all too much for Bruce.
He’s embarrassed by his pantry
full of pasta and canned fish.
No one can see you Bruce,
says the voice inside his head.

—Mark Neely