The Deathbed Playboy

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Once described by Dave Smith as "a one-man symphony," Dacey here ranges widely in tones, strategies, and forms, a diversity appropriate for one who characteristically mediates on American identity. In these poems, Dacey winds together many strands—our national pop culture, the vagaries of human discourse, death, and sexuality—and frames them in a narrative as comic as it is plangent.
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Overview

Once described by Dave Smith as "a one-man symphony," Dacey here ranges widely in tones, strategies, and forms, a diversity appropriate for one who characteristically mediates on American identity. In these poems, Dacey winds together many strands—our national pop culture, the vagaries of human discourse, death, and sexuality—and frames them in a narrative as comic as it is plangent.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In his fifth book, Dacey (The Boy Under the Bed) makes highly accessible poetry from the artifacts of daily life, e.g., TV shows, recorded messages, and speeding tickets. But Dacey transmutes the ordinary into the metaphorical and the surreal; dream time and normal time coexist in his poetic universe. And sophisticated forms like sonnets and couplets tend to alternate with a very readable free verse--Dacey, after all, is the coeditor of Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms. In the title poem, an elegy to his father, Dacey brings the old man a girlie magazine "like a priest with a last rite." Elsewhere, the poet's traffic-cop brother works "as brave bullfighters work close to the horns," and Florence Nightingale sees a stack of cordwood that, on closer view, "turns into tossed amputated limbs." Readable and fresh, Dacey's poems engage and delight because the poet is always drawn "to metaphor." Highly recommended for all collections.-Daniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Decatur, IL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The Minnesota State Univ. Professor is probably better known for his influential anthology, Strong Measures (which he co-edited in 1986), than for his five previous books of poetry. Though the anthology announced a new interest in "traditional forms," Dacey seems not to have mastered them in all this time. Which is not to say he doesn't come close in the best poems here, those that happen also to be the least personal of his narratives. Four pieces on Walt Whitman derive from incidents in the poet's life: he attends a church service at a mental asylum; falls asleep reading Florence Nightingale on nursing (and imagines working side-by-side with her); and is seen from the view of a young man whose parents entertain the poet one summer, during which time he wades in the creek naked and hugs trees, much to the speaker's amusement. A simple Blakean poem, "The Burial," in rhymed couplets, finds the poet attending the funeral of his young nephew. Too many of Dacey's other, jokier poems seem dashed-off and are often occasioned by the oddity of a found sentence or phrase. "For the God Poseidon" mixes the modern submarines with their ancient namesake; "The Neighbors" answers a pundit's hypothetical remark about George Bush and Saddam Hussein; "Four Men in a Car" elaborates on a photographer's remark that no image is sadder than that in the title; and "Trousers"—the most tasteless of the type—riffs on a remark from Nadezhda Mandelstam. But Dacey isn't worried about being offensive: in bad-boy Catholic form, he updates the Stations of the Cross with his glib political rhetoric; and in the execrable "Why Jesus Was Crucified," he ends a narrative about discovering his wife's sketchesof her vagina with an absurd conceit about the death of Christ. Dacey's heavily —and pointlessly—enjambed lines suggest his formal unease, and his short-line free verse is often sentimental, embarrassing, or both.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780910055475
  • Publisher: Eastern Washington University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Pages: 88
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

PHILIP DACEY's five previous books of poetry include The Boy Under the Bed (The Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1981) and The Man with Red Suspenders (Milkweed, 1986). He co-edited Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms (HarperCollins, 1986). The latest of his many chapbooks is What's Empty Weighs the Most: 24 Sonnets (Black Dirt Press, 1997). Widely published in periodicals and anthologies, he teaches at the Minnesota State University in Marshall. Awards include two NEA fellowships, two Pushcart Prizes, Bush and Loft-McKnight fellowships, and a Fulbright Lectureship in Yugoslavia, as well as prizes from Poetry Northwest, Yankee, Prairie Schooner, Flyway and The Nebraska Review.
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Table of Contents

Recorded Message
Difficult Corners: 1. Introduction to "North Broadway & Grand," 2. North Broadway & Grand
Eskimo Joe
Reading While Driving
For the God Poseidon
The Neighbors
The New American Stations of the Cross
Four Men in a Car
Mystery Football
Coupon Love
The Deathbed Playboy
The Wheel

Walt Whitman's Sunday with the Insane
Harry Stafford: Whitman at Timber Creek
The Burial
Walt Whitman Falls Asleep over Florence Nightingale's Notes on Nursing

God Considers the Options for Human Procreation
Teresa: 1. She Writes Offering to Buy for Her Son, in Minnesota, an Electric Blanket, 2. Crepscule for Mother
Why Jesus Was Crucified
Portrait, with Lightning Rod
Macaroons
Shacking Up
Study
Trio: 1. The Musician, 2. Bachspeed, 3. Musica
Romance
Sol o Sombra
Trousers
Death and Television
Chiaroscuro
The Ice Cream Return

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