Kindest Regards: New and Selected

Kindest Regards: New and Selected

by Ted Kooser


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“Kooser . . . must be the most accessible and enjoyable major poet in America. His lines are so clear and simple.” —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

“Nothing escapes him; everything is illuminated.” —Library Journal

“Will one day rank alongside of Edgar Lee Masters, Robert Frost, and William Carlos Williams.” —Minneapolis Tribune

“Kooser’s ability to discover the smallest detail and render it remarkable is a rare gift.” —The Bloomsbury Review

Four decades of poetry—and a generous selection of new work—make up this extraordinary collection by Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser. Firmly rooted in the landscapes of the Midwest, Kooser’s poetry succeeds in finding the emotional resonances within the ordinary. Kooser’s language of quiet intensity trains itself on the intricacies of human relationships, as well as the animals and objects that make up our days. As Poetry magazine said of his work, “Kooser documents the dignities, habits, and small griefs of daily life, our hunger for connection, our struggle to find balance.”

From “March 2”:

Patchy clouds and windy.
All morning our house has been flashing in and out of shade like a signal, and far across the waves of grass a neighbor’s house has answered,
offering help.

Ted Kooser is the author of eleven collections of poetry, including Delights & Shadows, which won the Pulitzer Prize. He served as the Poet Laureate of the United States, and is a visiting professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556595332
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publication date: 05/08/2018
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 473,717
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Ted Kooser is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, and he served as the Poet Laureate of the United States (2004-2006). Raised and educated in the Midwest, Kooser worked for most of his life as a life insurance executive in Lincoln, Nebraska. His book Delights & Shadows won the

Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2005. At present, Kooser remains one of the best-selling poets in the U.S., and has an appointment as the Presidential Professor at the University of Nebraska where he teaches courses in poetry and nonfiction writing. He continues to be an important spokesperson for poetry through his newspaper column "American Life in Poetry."

“American Life in Poetry”. He lives with his wife in Garland, Nebraska.


Garland, Nebraska

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

Ames, Iowa


B.S., Iowa State University, 1962; M.A., University of Nebraska, 1968

Read an Excerpt

Selecting a Reader

First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it, She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf. She will say to herself,
"For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned." And she will.

The Widow Lester

I was too old to be married,
but nobody told me,
I guess they didn't care enough.
How it had hurt, though, catching bouquets
all those years!
Then I met Ivan, and kept him
and never knew love.
How his feet stunk in the bed sheets!
I could have told him to wash,
but I wanted to hold that stink against him.
The day he dropped dead in the field.
I was watching.
I was hanging up sheets in the yard,
and I finished.

In the Basement of the Goodwill Store

In musty light, in the thin brown air
of damp carpet, doll heads and rust,
beneath long rows of sharp footfalls
like nails in a lid, an old man stands
trying on glasses, lifting each pair
from the box like a glittering fish
and holding it up to the light
of a dirty bulb. Near him. a heap
of enameled pans as white as skulls
looms in the catacomb shadows,
and old toilets with dry red throats
cough up bouquets of curtain rods.

You've seen him somewhere before.
He's wearing the green leisure suit
you threw out with the garbage,
and the Christmas tie you hated,
and the ventilated wingtip shoes
you found in your father's closet
and wore as a joke. And the glasses
that finally fit him, through which
he looks to see you looking back—
two mirrors that flash and dance—
are those through which one day
you too will look down over the years,
when you have grown old and thin
and no longer particular,
and the things you once thought
you were rid of forever
have taken you back in their arms.

Daddy Longlegs

Here, on fine long legs springy as steel,
a life rides, sealed in a small brown pill
that skims along over the basement floor
wrapped up in a simple obsession.
Eight legs reach out like the master ribs
of a web in which some thought is caught
dead center in its own small world,
a thought so far from the touch of things
that we can only guess at it. If mine,
it would be the secret dream
of walking along across the floor of my life
with an easy grace, and with love enough
to live on at the center of myself.

The Urine Specimen

In the clinic, a sun-bleached shell of stone
on the shore of the city, you enter
the last small chamber, a little closet
chastened with pearl—cool, white, and glistening—
and over the chilly well of the toilet
you trickle your precious sum in a cup.
It's as simple as that. But the heat
of this gold your body's melted and poured out
into a form begins to enthrall you,
warming your hand with your flesh's fevers
in a terrible way. It's like holding
an organ—spleen or fatty pancreas,
a lobe from your foamy brain still steaming
with worry. You know that just outside
a nurse is waiting to cool it into a gel
and slice it onto a microscope slide
for the doctor, who in it will read your future,
wringing his hands. You lift the chalice and toast
the long life of your friend there in the mirror,
who wanly smiles, but does not drink to you.


The quarry road tumbles toward me
out of the early morning darkness,
lustrous with frost, an unrolled bolt
of softly glowing fabric, interwoven
with tiny glass beads on silver thread,
the cloth spilled out and then lovingly
smoothed by my father's hand
as he stands behind his wooden counter
(dark as these fields) at Tilden's Store
so many years ago. "Here," he says smiling,
"you can make something special with this."

February 16

An early morning fog.

In fair weather, the shy past keeps its distance.
Old loves, old regrets, old humiliations
look on from afar. They stand back under the trees.
No one would think to look for them there.

But in fog they come closer. You can feel them
there by the road as you slowly walk past.
Still as fence posts they wait, dark and reproachful,
each stepping forward in turn.

March 2

Patchy clouds and windy.

All morning
our house has been flashing in and out of shade
like a signal, and far across the waves of grass
a neighbor's house has answered,
offering help. If I have to abandon this life,
they tell me they'll pull me across
in a leather harness
clipped to the telephone line.

Walking on Tiptoe

Long ago we quit lifting our heels
like the others—horse, dog, and tiger—
though we thrill to their speed
as they flee. Even the mouse
bearing the great weight of a nugget
of dog food is enviably graceful.
There is little spring to our walk,
we are so burdened with responsibility,
all of the disciplinary actions
that have fallen to us, the punishments,
the killings, and all with our feet
bound stiff in the skins of the conquered.
But sometimes, in the early hours,
we can feel what it must have been like
to be one of them, up on our toes,
stealing past doors where others are sleeping,
and suddenly able to see in the dark.

Table of Contents

From Sure Signs 1980

Selecting a Reader 5

First Snow 6

An Old Photograph 7

The Constellation Orion 9

The Salesman 10

Old Soldiers' Home 11

Fort Robinson 12

How to Foretell a Change in the Weather 13

Snow Fence 15

In an Old Apple Orchard 16

After the Funeral: Cleaning Out the Medicine Cabinet 17

Carrie 18

For a Friend 19

Five p.m. 20

Abandoned Farmhouse 21

At the Bait Stand 22

The Widow Lester 23

The Red Wing Church 24

From One World at a Time 1985

Flying at Night 27

In the Basement of the Goodwill Storep 28

In January, 1962 29

Father 30

The Fan in the Window 33

Daddy Longlegs 34

Goodbye 35

Laundry 36

Ladder 37

Walking at Noon near the Burlington Depot in Lincoln, Nebraska 38

At Nightfall 40

Cleaning a Bass 41

A Letter 42

The Voyager 2 Satellite 43

As the President Spoke 44

The Urine Specimen 45

Porch Swing in September 46

From The Blizzard Voices 1986

Eighteen eighty-eight, a Thursday 49

Father and I had pulled the pump up 50

My maiden name was Hanna 51

Depending where on the plains 52

I was an Ohio girl 53

Corn was at twelve cents a bushel 54

In all my years I never saw 55

So go the old stories 56

From Weather Central 1994

Étude 59

A Finding 60

An Elegy 61

Snakeskin 62

A Letter in October 63

Four Secretaries 64

Shoes 65

City Limits 66

Site 68

Surveyors 69

Another Story 71

Five-Finger Exercise 73

Sparklers 74

Old Dog in March 75

The Great-Grandparents 77

Weather Central 78

From Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim Harrison 2000

Epigraph 81

November 9 82

November 10 83

November 12 84

November 18 85

November 29 86

December 2 87

December 14 88

December 20 89

December 22 90

January 5 91

January 7 92

January 12 93

January 17 94

January 19 95

January 31 96

February 16 97

February 18 98

March 2 99

March 7 100

March 12 101

March 20 102

From Delights & Shadows 2004

Walking on Tiptoe 105

At the Cancer Clinic 106

Gyroscope 107

A Rainy Morning 108

Mourners 109

Skater 109

Mother 111

A Jar of Buttons 113

Dishwater 114

Applesauce 115

Father 116

Pearl 117

Telescope 120

A Washing of Hands 121

After Years 122

From Valentines 2008

A Heart of Gold 125

Barn Owl 126

Song of the Ironing Board 127

For You, Friend 128

A Map of the World 129

This Paper Boat 130

From Splitting an Order 2014

Splitting an Order 133

Bad News 134

Swinging from Parents 135

At Arby's, at Noon 136

Changing Drivers 137

Two 138

Opossum 139

A Visitant at Five a.m. 140

A Jonathan in Spring 141

Sundial 142

Lantern 143

A Mouse in a Trap 144

Zinc Lid 145

At a Kitchen Table 146

A Morning in Early Spring 147

Sleep Apnea 151

Deep Winter 152

New Moon 153

Painting the Barn 154

Awakening 155

From At Home 2017

Road Kill 159

Locust Trees in Late May 160

The Sick Bat 161

Croquet Ball 162

Barred Owl 163

Nine Wild Turkeys 164

A Walk with My Dog 165

Meteor Shower 167

New Poems


Sewing Machine 171

Putz 172

Memorial Day 173

A Bottle Collection 174

The Clipper Ship 175

Blackout 176

Goldfish 177

A Color Slide 178

Post Office 179

Ames By-Products 180

Helmet 182

By Flowing Water 183

An Antique Teacup 185

Parents 186

Death of a Dog 187

A Line in the Rain 188


A February Walk 191

In Early April 192

Roadside 193

Three Steps in the Grass 194

Snapping Turtle 195

A Summer Afternoon with Clouds 196

Nash 197

A Marriage 198

An Appearance 199

Walking in Fog beside a Lake 201

The Constellation 202

Turning Up the Thermostat 203

A Yellow Rope 204

Hoarfrost 205

Moon Shadows 206

December Morning 207


A Man on a Bridge 211

Arabesque 212

On a Windy Day 213

People We Will Never See Again 214

Passing Through 215

Laundromat 216

Landing 217

Piano 218

Smoke Rings 219

Two by the Road 220

Richard 221

Brueghel: Hunters in the Snow 222

Firewood 224

Card Trick 225

Three Shadows 226

A Long Midwinter Walk 227

Waxer 228

Index of Titles 231

Index of First Lines 234

About the Author 239

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