Read "The Jealous Gods" on Verse Daily.
“I want to live in Joseph Green’s configuration of the cosmos, where God
darns ‘the black holes logic keeps poking through / His starry socks,’ where
when a crow bangs a milk carton on the sidewalk, it demands our fullest
gaze. Gracefully bearing witness to those navigating the throes of grief, Green
provides the best antidotes: pay attention, lighten up and listen, stand back in
wonder and praise. Under the spell of Green’s exacting eye, we’re forced to
consider our own temporary footing, while simultaneously being reassured
we’re all in good hands.”
-— Martha Silano
Read two of Joe's poems at Caffeine Destiny
Poem from What Water Does at a Time Like This
My Mother Is in the Trunkof someone’s ‘37 Plymouth, Oklahoma plates,
trunk lid off its hinges. She’s wrapped in a quilt,
riding with the cots, the tent, the picnic basket,
her face as radiant as a hubcap.
I think she must think she’s getting away
with something. She hasn’t yet been anywhere
near the place where I’ll wind up scattering her ashes.
In fact, it will be ten more years before I matter at all,
before she even thinks of me. From here I can’t tell
who is behind the wheel, who is aiming the lens,
who wants to get on with it and who it is
that wants this one moment to hold still.
In this moving collection, a childhood darkened by a harshly critical family follows
the poet into his adult world, persisting like “…winter hanging on/ into spring,” its “small hail”
stinging every surface. Characterized by a wry wisdom, these haunted, evocative poems collapse the distance
between past and present. With a stark, transcending grace, Joseph Green chronicles “Ordinary lives./
Ambitions spilling. Plans failing./ Dreams seeping out through the cracks.”
-- Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate
Read or listen to 3 of Joe's poems at Terrain
Poem from That Thread Still Connecting Us
Someone to Watch Over MeMonths after Granddad died he still hung
around in the hall outside my room,
keeping an eye on me the way he’d always done.
I accused him of spying when he was alive,
when I caught him four or five times a day
easing my door ajar and peering inside.
Get your nose out of my business, I hissed,
and the door sucked shut and he slipped
back down the hall, but then after he was gone
there was no more getting rid of him.
My mother gave all his clothes away,
the pinstriped suits, the hats, the underwear,
and scrubbed the smoke stains out of his room
and sold his bed, his dresser, and his easy chair.
But I could still feel him sneaking up behind me,
distracting me from my algebra,
from the unknowns I had to isolate
among the numbers I couldn’t love,
his breath whistling soft as cotton through his nostrils,
the invisible gift of his attention lifting
the hairs on the back of my neck.
That was the winter I first sipped liquor
and first sniffed a girl on my slippery finger.
That was the winter I learned what it is to be haunted.