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ISBN: 978-1-62557-967-6
Categories Poetry

This Much I Can Tell You

Publication Date: August 2017


This Much I Can Tell You

Sometimes it feels as if the mind
will seal itself up and you can go
a great distance without ever seeing
those who ever spoke your name.
You hear everything from cacophony
to a symphony played on instruments,
provenance unknown, stored out of sight C
long ago. It is a closed system
but vast, and time unfolds there too,
unrelenting, nothing in abeyance,
like animal eyes suddenly appearing
in the roadside weeds and fields,
through which the highway plunges,
and on it a car traveling, not speeding,
not hanging back either. This much
I can tell you: there is smoke
beyond the mind, to which the mind turns,
as to a burning house, flames raging,
spurting from the second story windows.
Shouldn’t you be running up the lawn?
Shouldn’t there be, in truth, more fires?


“Another name for this book could be The Museum of Life As We Know It Today. From public figures like Mishima and Nixon, from musicians like Frankie Avalon and Roy Orbison, as well as the Cure and the Everly Brothers, Rigsbeewalks us through our past and present even as he points us toward the future. The world that awaits will be a beautiful one as long as it contains poets and poems like these.”

–David Kirby

For decades now, David Rigsbee has crafted poems of a bracing lyrical intensity that is both refined and tough-minded. His new collection shows him working at the height of his considerable powers: these are poems of heartfelt retrospection and surprising associations. Above all, they celebrate the blessings and consolations of a cultured life, one that can honor Auden and Roy Orbison, Faust and one-hit Doo Wop groups. These elegant and lovingly constructed poems deserve to be read and-more importantly-reread.”

-David Wojahn

About the Author

David Rigsbee

David Rigsbee is the author of 23 books and chapbooks, including twelve previous full-length collections of poems.  In addition, he has also published critical works on Carolyn Kizer and Joseph Brodsky, whom he also translated.  He has co-edited two anthologies, including Invited Guest:  An Anthology of Twentieth Century Southern Poetry, a “notable book” selection of the American Library Association and the American Association of University Professors. His work has appeared in AGNIThe American Poetry Review, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, The Ohio Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The Sewanee Review, The Southern Review, and many others.  He has been recipient of two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a NEH summer fellowship to the American Academy in Rome. His other awards include The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown fellowship, The Virginia Commission on the Arts literary fellowship, The Djerassi Foundation and Jentel Foundation residencies, and an Award from the Academy of American Poets.  Winner of a Pushcart Prize, the Vachel Lindsay Poetry Award and the Pound Prize, he was also 2010 winner of the Sam Ragan Award for contribution to the arts in North Carolina. His most recent books are MAGA Sonnets of Donald Trump (2021) and a translation of Dante’s Paradiso (2023).

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