Black Lawrence Press
April 8, 2014

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Kevin Pilkington

Here at Black Lawrence Press we are celebrating National Poetry Month with a poem a day, featuring a total of 30 authors from our list. Today’s featured poet is Kevin Pilkington, author of the poetry collection The Unemployed Man Who Became A Tree and the forthcoming collection Where You Want to Be: New and Selected Poems.

 

The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree

I lost my last job in July
then spent the rest of the summer
working on a tan. With little money
left, I searched the want ads
until coming across an opening
for a tree. The spot was just a few blocks
away near the path that runs along
the river. I hurried over to the square
patch of dirt in the concrete where
the city cut the last tree down.
Then stood on it, looked around,
liked the area and decided to take
the position. Within minutes my legs
went stiff as my feet began to root
the soil. My arms branched out,
skin became bark. The paper didn’t
say what kind of tree was needed
although my limbs looked maple,
from the waist down, I was all oak.

By evening I was just about done
and even began thinking like wood:
how to bud April green enough
to get spring going early this year.
The only bird I ever cared about
was Charlie Parker, now I wanted
a flock to rest on my limbs,
build a nest on the highest branch
that sprouted from my ear
a place to call home and a place safe
from cats. By evening the fog that crawled
in on its knees was gone and there I was,
alone, holding up the moon in my branch
shaped like a right hand for the entire
city to see – smiling.

 

Headshot 2Kevin Pilkington is a member of the writing faculty at Sarah Lawrence College. He is the author of six collections: his collection Spare Change was the La Jolla Poets Press National Book Award winner and his chapbook won the Ledge Poetry Prize. His collection entitled Ready to Eat the Sky was a finalist for an Independent Publishers Books Award. A collection entitled In the Eyes of a Dog was published in September 2009 and won the 2011 New York Book Festival Award. Another collection entitled The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree was  ecently published and 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 and has appeared in Verse Daily. His poems and reviews have appeared in numerous magazines including: The Harvard Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Boston Review, Yankee, Hayden’s Ferry, Columbia, North American Review, etc. His debut novel entitled Summer Shares was published in June 2012. His collection Where You Want to Be: New and Selected Poems will appear in 2015.