Meditations on the Jungle Ambush
By Jim McGarrah
There were nights, strands of time tied together with a thin wire of     fear
when you could hear the full moon keening as it rose to wait for     death.
Its only job was to end someone's loneliness forever by lighting
the path of a sniper's bullet or casting a dim shadow across a trip     wire.
You wanted to believe it hung there to run the tides at China Beach,
guide the course of love you hoped to feel one day, the leap and swirl
of Basa fish or the unlocking of a Cac Dang flower, echo a tiger's     growl
or a Black Kite's song, record explosions of dew across the rice     paddies.
Everything, even the hard click of brass as a round got chambered,
seemed more romantic and buoyant in the oblique and ductile glow.
In the end, all it did was burnish, and then not even from its own fire,
the monstrous clouds roiling above the banyan canopy overhead.
All it ever did was tempt you with its silent dusting of sugared light
to forget that each night ambush held the origin of your oblivion.
Reprinted by permission of the author.
From Ink Brush Press. January, 2013. Temple and Dallas, Texas. Editor – Jerry Craven. Ink Brush Press
Price $15.00, 114 pages.
An excellent Houston independent bookstore that carries many Ink Brush Press Books is Brazos Bookstore. A great Louisville, Kentucky, independent bookstore that carries all of Jim McGarrah’s books is The Reader’s Corner on Frankfort Avenue.
Mark your calendars: Jim McGarrah has two readings scheduled for February. He'll be in Zionsville, IN (a suburb of Indianapolis) on February 7 doing a reading and signing for Poetry on Brick Street at Eagle Creek Coffee Co., 10 South Main, Zionsville at 6:30 P.M.
On February 19, he'll be in Owensboro, KY doing a reading and signing for the Brescia University's writing group - Third Tuesday Writers at Gambrinus Libation Emporium, 102 W. 2nd Street, Owensboro. The program is from 6pm - 9pm.
Words of praise for Breakfast at Denny’s:
In Jim McGarrah’s third poetry collection, the present is often eclipsed by the ghosted past of Vietnam. These vital poems dwell in the inevitable privacy of being human, and it is in these starkly singular spaces--walking the dog, truckstopping for breakfast, closing the bar at 2 A.M., visiting Vietnamese children suffering the effects of Agent Orange—that McGarrah wrestles truth with music, grit and wry humor. As the poet sways between sobriety and stupor, bearing witness to the horror of being alive and the horror of going on, he too leads us through that slim midnight portal into rugged grace, where a worn ball cap becomes a whiskey-washed Eucharist and the cast of the missing creates the genius of absence. When transcendence comes, it is no lavish exaltation, but something far more real and astonishing.
Jennifer K. Sweeney, author of How to Live on Bread and Music, winner of the James Laughlin Prize
Jim McGarrah knows the back roads of the American Psyche and the kind of solar flares the brain releases when you pull off the electro-throb highway and smell the real people. Like Wim Wenders’ angels, he listens to the inner plaints and pleas beneath the noise of everyday life. He hears the old woman, Marge, who says that we are all “Collateral damage in God’s plan” and Jesus, the carpenter with blistered hands, who downs a cold one at the bar. Reading this book is like coming home.
Doug Anderson, author of The Moon Reflected Fire and winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Prize
Jim McGarrah's poems and essays have appeared most recently or are forthcoming in Bayou Magazine, Cincinnati Review, Connecticut Review, Elixir Magazine, GreenBriar Review, and North American Review. He is the author of three books of poetry, Running the Voodoo Down, which won a book award from Elixir Press in 2003 and When the Stars Go Dark, which became part of Main Street Rag’s Select Poetry Series in 2009. McGarrah’s newest book of poems, Breakfast at Denny’s, was released on January 1, 2013, by Ink Brush Press. He has also written a memoir of the Vietnam War entitled A Temporary Sort of Peace (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2007) that won the Eric Hoffer Award for Legacy Nonfiction and The End of an Era, a nonfiction account of life in the American counter-culture during the 1960’s and 1970’s, published in 2011 by Ink Brush Press. McGarrah has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a finalist twice in the James Hearst Poetry Contest. He is editor, along with Tom Watson, of Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana. An interview with him appears in the blog posting just below.