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Honey with Tobacco


This time the migraine came with a vision
bathed in night sweat:

I was sitting on the Eames chair,
your man’s body on my lap, legs

and arms white as casein draped over
mine, spilling onto the cassock, new sores

on your legs, dried blood
on your feet and hands,

from your chalk mouth
the words forgive me,

from mine, the impossible

Hard Bread,Peg Boyers’s debut poetry collection, with verse spoken in the imagined voice of the Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg, was widely praised for its inspired ventriloquism and its brilliant lyricism. In Honey with Tobacco, Boyers’s own intensely personal voice emerges in three strikingly distinctive variants. The first part of the book is the most explicitly autobiographical, bringing together poems that explore the poet’s Cuban American experience and a childhood marked by travel, the tropics, and varieties of disenchantment. The middle sequence of poems concerns a mother, a father, and a son, a postmodern holy family whose ordeals are evoked in a terse, terrifying narrative. In familiar tableaux drawn from the Bible that have inspired great works of art—the Annunciation, the Pieta, and Judgment Day—Boyers explores what it means in contemporary America to be “blessed among women” and whether and how art can contain grief. The final section of the book confronts age, desire, and regret in a series of personal poems that plumb baser human instincts and the speakers’ determination to dwell in darkness, when necessary, without abandoning the sacred.

Praise for Hard Bread:

“A great achievement of poetic voice . . . . It’s absolutely clear what these poems are ‘about,’ and they are unapologetic in their devotion to subject, clarity, precision, and accessibility.”—Steven Cramer, Poetry

64 pages | 6 1/8 x 8 1/2 | © 2007

Phoenix Poets



“I fell into a mood of abnormal mental acuteness reading this beautiful book. In poems about her girlhood in Cuba, the agonies of parenting, even the ordinary life of a dog, Boyers combines a kind of bridal innocence with the whiteness of the dead. Honey with Tobacco takes us back, like taste and smell, to the place where memory—pungent and sweet and acrid—tries to provide the key to everything.”

Henri Cole

“Peg Boyers’s poems have a rare power: they match the private to the public, the intimate to the political. Her own memorable phrase puts it best: ‘spiky but benign.’ The range is formidable. From lyric desolation to ‘funky irreverence.’ But unifying this diversity, we hear, unmistakably, the voice of a true poet.” —George Steiner

George Steiner

"The final stanza exquisitely elaborates one approach to poetry, as an activity both impassioned and arduous, drawing on both the intellect and emotional experience. This ethos, consistent with the collection as a whole, provides a fitting conclusion to this well-wrought, highly original book."

Carrie Etter | Warwick Review

Table of Contents

I. Honey with Tobacco
La Tuvería or An Earring’s Lament
Machine of Regret
Agua de Violetas
Playa Colorada
Family Portrait
Transition: Inheriting Maps
Abanico Habanero
II. Deposition
            1. Before Losing You at the Market, Finding You at the Temple
            2. The Effects of Intemperance
            3. Sacra Conversazione
            4. Annunciation
            5. Palm Sunday
            6. Agony in the Garden
            7. Deposition
            8. The Bad Thief is a Mother
            9. Pietà
            10. Cup
            11. Judgment Day
            12. Lamentation
            13. Genuine Repose During the Flight from Egypt
            14. Catch
Time Orders Old Age to Destroy Beauty
Bitch Diary
Pentecost: Waiting
Forty Days

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