Saturday, July 11, 2009

NEO Poet Field Guide

Full name: Mike Finley

Age: 59

Habitat: Amherst and Vermilion

Range: Many books posted free at

Diet: James Wright, Charles Potts, d a levy, Sharon Olds, Charles Reznikoff, Emily Dickinson, Robert Desnos, Bill Knott

Distinguishing Markings: Pushcart Prize 1985

Predators: advertising, credentialing, ideology, gnosticism, ill-humor, Latinate forms, the designated hitter

Prey: self-pity, delusion, bad companions, mutual back-patters, angry masturbation

Call: Vip-Poor-VEE!

Gise Pedersen Sets Me Straight on a Matter of Natural History

"No, you've got this part all wrong,"
Says Gise, swatting a poem about birds
With the back of one hand.

"You have whippoorwills sobbing in the limbs
Of poplars, but whippoorwills don't perch
In poplars, whippoorwills don't perch anywhere,

Because their legs are just tiny twigs,
They are gone into atrophy, no muscle left,
So all they can do is plop themselves

Flat on the ground and make the best of it
There on their haunches. And furthermore,
What is this sobbing business? It's poetic

But hardly accurate. Their cry is more
Like a cheer, it is a call my son Peter,
Before he died, liked to imitate

On his walks home from school.
Many times, late summer nights in our cabin,
Hendrik and I would be feeling morose,

Only to hear out there in the darkness
The cry of a creature pressed close
And shouting from the cold of this earth

To all who might hear him:


John B. Burroughs said...

Mike Finley's one of my favorite contemporary poets - and I'm happy to see him featured here.

In a bit of shameless self-promotion: a huge, gorgeous poem by Mike - one of the best things I've read anywhere, ever - will be appearing in the first issue of Fuck Poetry, soon to be released by Crisis Chronicles Press.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Great poem.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau