Black Lawrence Press

Where You Want to Be: New and Selected Poems

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Where You Want to Be

You wake early again
get out of bed, walk over
to the window and look down
at the street to see if anything
has changed and, of course,
it never does.

At first you think the blanket
in the vacant lot near
the corner is new until
a gust of wind blows it
into the air and shreds
it into a flock of pigeons.

And if all the new clubs
make sure the city never
sleeps uptown the way the papers
claim, then the people under
cardboard in the alleys and in
front of doorways down here
every morning is how it finds
a way to nap.

The steeple on St. Bart’s a few
blocks away is a spike that nails
Christ into the sky if you can’t find
anything on the street to believe in
but it does nothing for the bent
trash cans standing along the curb
like arthritic old men who know
the real purpose of any life is found
in what everyone else throws away.

A woman coming out of the grocery
store on the corner of 4th in a short
skirt and heels does a better
job stopping traffic than
the red light hanging from
a wire that would rather swing
like Count Basie in strong
wind than stop every car
it should.

When you hear the woman
you admit you love start
breakfast, cracking an egg
open like the dawn, its yolk
a perfect tiny sun, you
are convinced this is where
you want to be, walking towards
her, hungry and ready
to eat the sky.

Praise

  • “This is a poet unafraid of being understood, who will not hide behind decorativeness or the oblique. Read these poems aloud and you will hear an authentic and quintessentially American voice not only writing but also speaking to you.”
    — Thomas Lux
  • “I take guilty pleasure in the poems of Kevin Pilkington, and consider him an essential voice in contemporary poetry.”
    — Jay Parini
  • “In this rich collection of tender poems, he celebrates the small consolations of daily life that offer spiritual relief in the face of disappointment and loss. There are no easy epiphanies here—just one poet working as hard as he can to get through daily life with dignity and grace.”
    — Jim Daniels

Kevin Pilkington

Kevin Pilkington is a member of the writing faculty at Sarah Lawrence College. He is the author of six collections: Spare Change was the La Jolla Poets Press National Book Award winner; Ready to Eat the Sky was a finalist for an Independent Publishers Books Award; In the Eyes of a Dog won the 2011 New York Book Festival Award; The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree was a Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award finalist. His poetry has appeared in many anthologies including: Birthday Poems: A Celebration, Western Wind, and Contemporary Poetry of New England. Over the years, he has been nominated for four Pushcarts. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines including: The Harvard Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Boston Review, Yankee, Hayden’s Ferry, Columbia, North American Review, etc. He has taught and lectured at numerous colleges and universities including The New School, Manhattanville College, MIT, University of Michigan, Susquehanna University, Saint Vincent College. His debut novel Summer Shares was published in 2012 and a paperback edition was reissued in summer 2014. He recently completed a second novel and is working on a new collection of poems.

Pilkington Author page

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