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Next Door to the Dead: Poems

Next Door to the Dead: Poems

by Kathleen Driskell
Next Door to the Dead: Poems

Next Door to the Dead: Poems

by Kathleen Driskell


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When Kathleen Driskell tells her husband that she's gone to visit the neighbors, she means something different than most. The noted poet—whose last book, Seed across Snow, was twice listed as a national bestseller by the Poetry Foundation—lives in an old country church just outside Louisville, Kentucky. Next door is an old graveyard that she was told had fallen out of use. In this marvelous new collection, this turns out not to be the case as the poet's fascination with the "neighbors" brings the burial ground back to life.

Driskell frequently strolls the cemetery grounds, imagining the lives and loves of those buried beside her property. These "neighbors," with burial dates as early as 1848, inspire poems that weave stories, real and imagined, from the epitaphs and unmarked graves. Shifting between perspectives, she embraces and inhabits the voices of those laid to rest while also describing the grounds, the man who mows around the markers, and even the flocks of black birds that hover above before settling amongst the gravestones.

Next Door to the Dead transcends time and place, linking the often disconnected worlds of the living and the deceased. Just as examining the tombstones forces the author to look more closely at her own life, Driskell's poems and their muses compel us to examine our own mortality, as well as how we impact the finite lives of those around us.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813165721
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 08/14/2015
Series: Kentucky Voices
Pages: 102
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kathleen Driskell is associate editor of the Louisville Review and professor of creative writing at Spalding University, where she also helps direct the low-residency MFA in Writing program. She is the author of numerous books and collections, including Laughing Sickness and Seed across Snow.

Table of Contents

Ars Poetica 1

Part 1

In Praise 5

Living Next to the Dead Acre 6

Funeral, in February 7

The Mower 8

Child's Poem for Sgt. Horace Mitchell Jr., 1946-1968 10

Consolation 11

Ars Poetica 12

Mounds 15

What Haunts 16

Epitaph: For the Blue Ribbon Baker 18

Infant Daughter, Marcus 2 Years Old, Myra 8 Days 19

Markers 20

Part 2

Epitaph: Jesus Called and Wanda Answered 23

Next Door to the Dead 24

Pathetic Fallacy 25

Lament for the Crow 26

Just Off Shore, the Shadows Move 28

The Egyptologist Speaks from the Grave 29

Inishmor, Aran Islands 30

Tchaenhotep: Mummy at the Kentucky Science Center Love Poetry 39

Epitaph: For the Grave Digger 41

Night 42

Death of the Civil War Infantryman, Mill Springs, Kentucky 43

Part 3

The Death of the Snake Handler 47

Epitaph: For Colonel Sanders 48

Cemetery Irony 49

At Harland Sanders's Grave 50

Too Late 51

Border State 52

Epitaph: For Uncle Joe, the Slave 53

At the Grave of the Girl Slave 54

Epitaph: He Never Killed a Man That Didn't Need Killing 56

Infant Girl Smithfield 57

Just As 60

From the Grave of the Mathematician 61

Mt. Zion, 1918 62

Part 4

On a Walk 65

Clearcut 66

Shunned 67

One Side of the Double Marker Left Unengraved 68

Epitaph: Wife of Proud Buck Shallcross 69

Epitaph: For the Man with No Last Name 70

Not Done Yet 72

Epitaph: Dear Departed Dave, He Chased a Bear into a Cave 74

Unused Grave 75

When the Dog Went Blind 77

Empty Grave 78

Up and Against the Sky 79

Flock 80

Acknowledgments 83

Index of First Lines 85

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