The Nerve: Poemsby Glyn Maxwell
A haunting and powerful collection, The Nerve captures the strangeness and splendor of America in the twenty-first century. Glyn Maxwell's characters include FBI agents, the Californian "wild child" Genie, a man who holds his own funeral, and women writing love letters to men on Death Row. From college football games to television weather reports, from hayrides to
A haunting and powerful collection, The Nerve captures the strangeness and splendor of America in the twenty-first century. Glyn Maxwell's characters include FBI agents, the Californian "wild child" Genie, a man who holds his own funeral, and women writing love letters to men on Death Row. From college football games to television weather reports, from hayrides to hunting tragedies, Maxwell's brilliant lyrics and narratives explore American life and legend.
"Maxwell is an intelligent and sensitive writer, and THE NERVE is one of the most enjoyable books of the year."David Orr The New York Times Book Review
An intelligent, sensitive writer, moving confidently toward expressions of common feeling.
The New York Times Book Review
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Read an Excerpt
By Glyn Maxwell
Houghton MifflinCopyright © 2002 Glyn Maxwell
All right reserved.
THE SEA COMES IN LIKE NOTHING BUT THE SEA
The sea comes in like nothing but the sea, but still a mind, knowing how seldom words
augment, reorders them before the breaker and plays them as it comes. All that should sound
is water reaching into the rough space the mind has cleared. The clearing of that mind
is nothing to the sea. The means whereby the goats were chosen nothing to the god,
who asked only a breathing life of us, to prove we were still there when it was doubted.
THE MAN WHO HELD HIS FUNERAL
Rugged and silken, like a country singer both those things, fastidious and scary, yet fitted by the terms of his employment in a sober suit and driving gloves, he seemed defeated in a civil war still going.
He said he’d lived his life. What was he, sixty? with children and grandchildren, his car business solid, sold. He laid his leather hands on the steering wheel and said he’d lived his life. And so one day had held his funeral.
Although he looked in his blue single-breasted right for one, we caught each other’s eyes and tried to find this funny or him funny. It depended. All his pals had been invited, had come from far and wide and there he lay,
face-up in a hired coffin, taking breaks for Pepsi while he listened to their speeches. Which, by the grin I saw in thedriver’s mirror, must have delighted him on his bed of satin, staring with eyes closed. Oh they made cracks,
he told us, they hit home, they didn’t spare me! We didn’t really know how to receive this, in the back, on the winning side, except politely, then without words to stretch back and imagine his friends were probably mourning him, you’d have to,
because he hadn’t died, because he’d held his funeral, to hear the case against him, but had heard nothing and was satisfied, and reassured that all the things he loved and strolled among had had their hour of judgment.
THE WEATHER GUY
Hurricane This is scaring us, Hurricane That’s not far behind, and we’re not turning our backs one second. We look at the screen all day. We find
Hurricane This still flapping away at the shirt of Tom the Weather Guy. Canada throws an arm around him. Hurricane That just bats an eye.
Hurricane This is whipping off the Carolinas’ tablecloth; Hurricane That, amused by this, is beating ocean into froth.
Hurricane This is playing wolf to New York City’s clever pig; Noah’s nailing down his roof so when it comes it’s nothing big.
Hurricane This is burning out off Providence; Hurricane That is disappointing Tom, who’d dreamt of half Virginia pounded flat.
And Hurricane This was called Renee. And Hurricane That was Stan. And Canada pats Tom’s shoulder now as he hands us back to Jenni-Ann,
who asks about his weekend plans, which are much the same as ours, so maybe we’ll see him nosing out of a local brawl of cars,
and maybe he’ll give us the wave he gets when the heat kicks in and how, and it hits the heights he said it would this far upstate by now.
More likely he’ll just speed away. And I’d be shy of the love of those who have to live by what I have to warn them of.
Excerpted from The Nerve by Glyn Maxwell Copyright © 2002 by Glyn Maxwell
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Meet the Author
Glyn Maxwell is the author of nine books of poetry, including, most recently, The Sugar Mile. He is also a dramatist whose plays have been staged in New York, Edinburgh, and London. His latest play, Liberty, had its world premiere in the summer of 2008 at Shakespeare's Globe. Among other honors, he has won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the E. M. Forster Prize. He was the poetry editor of the New Republic from 2001 to 2007. He lives in London.
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