Holiday in the Islands of Grief: Poems

Holiday in the Islands of Grief: Poems

by Jeffrey McDaniel


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In his new collection, Jeffrey McDaniel confronts the insular and expansive qualities of loss. With electric language and surrealistic imagery, McDaniel’s poems deliver the quotidian elements of middle-age life while weaving us in & out of childhood and adulthood alongside body and mind. The tragic and life affirming share the same page and the same world, reminding us how close corruption can be to innocence; domesticity to fantasy; aging to youth. 
We are underwater off the coast of Belize.
The water is lit up even though its dark
as if there are illuminated seashells
scattered on the ocean floor.
We’re not wearing oxygen tanks,
yet staying underwater for long stretches.
We are looking for the body of the boy
we lost. Each year he grows a little older.
Last December I opened his knapsack
and stuck in a plastic box of carrots.
Even though we’re underwater, we hear
a song playing over a policeman’s radio.
He comes to the shoreline to park
and eat midnight sandwiches, his headlights
fanning out across the harbor.
And I hold you close, apple of my closed eye,
red dance of my opened fist. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822966104
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 02/25/2020
Series: Pitt Poetry Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 65
Sales rank: 560,282
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Jeffrey McDaniel is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Chapel of Inadvertent Joy. Other books include The EndarkenmentThe Splinter FactoryThe Forgiveness Parade, and Alibi School. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry. A recipient of an NEA Fellowship, he teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in the Hudson Valley.

Table of Contents


Hearing Test 5

"Gigantic" 7

Midlife Chrysler 9

Bio from a Parallel World 10

The Bottom of My Hourglass 12

Pass the Gravy 13

The Appraiser 14

My Adobe Bouquet 15

The Price of History 16

The Church of Michael Jordan 18

The Imperial Diet 19

Good Boy Now 21

Raymond 22

Jonathan 23

Dear Drew 24


Destruction Myth 29

Holiday in the Islands of Grief 30

Set Design Notes for a Seizure 32

Bagpipes 34

Def Leppard 38

Yankees Playoff Game 41

St. Pats 44

Arroyo Burro Beach 47

California Night Sky 49

The Schadenfreude Channel 50

Tooth #19 51

The Pain 53

Amsterdam 54

Eighth Grade 55

The Used Bookstore of Your Dreams 56

Hymens Are Stronger than Trampolines 57

Genital Odometers 58

The Narcoleptic's Marathon 59

Creation Myth 61


The News 65

The Yard Is Covered with Yellow Leaves 67

Tonight's Lecture: What Not To Do When Painting 68

Biophilia 69

Wolf Energy 70

A Man Walks into a Bar 71

Parking Lot Jesus 72

Personalized Russian Dolls 74

It's been November for several months now 75

2050 76

The Hour the Beards of the Dead Get Their Growth 77

Forest Walk by the Hudson 79

Wooden Bench 81

Vampire Schedule 83

Acknowledgments 87

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