Gerry Spence, that enduring, iconic figure in his fringed suede jacket, has been a successful, charismatic and passionate champion of justice in America’s legal system for decades. Now, he offers us the chance to take a walk through the nine decades of his extraordinary life in these collected poems.
Those familiar with Gerry Spence’s fiery imprecations against corruption in law and politics will recognize another side to his voice as a writer in this collection of poems, A Small Pile of Feathers; a spiritual, loving, and sometimes humorous side, one devoted to family and to preserving the wild places he writes of as though they were inscribed on his own bones, in his own blood:
My poems are as silent as firs,
as towering and as still.
But in tender grasses along clear creeks,
in the sound of meandering water over patient rocks,
in the sharp, sweet smell of the early morning
you will hear my songs.
A true highlight of this collection is Section two, filled with poems honoring the deep and abiding love of Gerry Spence and his wife, Imaging, as well as his children, family, and lifelong friends. Entirely and authentically Spence’s, many of these poems capture the kind of raising of the ordinary to the sublime so often found in Pablo Neruda’s sonnets, such as in Mr. Spence’s poem, “Once the Legs of Wrens,” a love poem for his wife, Imaging:
You came whisking like six new brooms into my life,
You, the child of the electric winds of love,
And by the bread and milk of passion
You dipped me into a sweet fathomed sea
And captured me.
Of all the rivers that run through this book, perhaps the greatest one is the deep, quiet sense of grace, a current strong enough to remind us of what we value in our own lives, the people and things that help us find and keep our paths. As Spence says: I sing out of a heart worn smooth.
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Table of Contents
Man in Nature, Nature in Man 1
I Heard the Small Birds Sing—Poems of Love and Family 46
The Wyoming I Know 86
About Gerry Spence 113