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Last Lake

From Ritual
A slow parade of old west enthusiasts,
camp song and hymn, came in along the winding
way where rural declined to suburban, slow
riders and wagoners passing a cow staked
to graze, some penned cattle looking vacantly
up—not in vacant lots the ancient icons
of wealth they had been in odes, prayers and epics,
in sacrifices and customs of bride-price
or dowry.  (It’s good people no longer make
blood sacrifices, at gas stations and stores,
for example, and in the crunching gravel
parking lots of small churches—oh but we do.)

“The evening forgives the alleyway,” Reginald Gibbons writes in his tenth book of poems—but such startling simplicities are overwhelmed in us by the everyday and the epochal. Across the great range of Gibbons’s emblematic, vividly presented scenes, his language looks hard at and into experience and feeling. Words themselves have ideas, and have eyes—inwardly looking down through their own meanings, as the poet considers a lake in the Canadian north, a Chicago neighborhood, a horse caravan in Texas, a church choir, a bookshelf, or an archeological dig on the steppes near the Volga River. The last lake is the place of both awe and elegy.

96 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2016

Phoenix Poets



“Gibbons brings a sharp, stereoscopic vision to the landscapes and situations he evokes as he is at once vitally attentive to the present and acutely aware of the weight of history. . . . These are supple, reflective, and striking works of conscience in which scholarship is matched by sensuousness, and gravitas is balanced by irreverence and wit.”


Winner of the Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement (2021)

Chicago Literary Hall of Fame

Table of Contents

A Neighborhood in Chicago
Memorial Day
Last Lake
On Self and Soul
     1. The night’s a metonym
     2. A ploughman leans his everything
     3. (Bright Candlelight)
     4. The question isn’t whether we should be
     5. The plenitude of what is is the diet of the mind
     6. “Soul,” the word, is ancient (from Old English)
     7. Livingness itself, neither bad nor benign
A Bookshelf
A Veteran
Dark Honey
     1. In the rainy sub-
     2. I remember that
     3. Gods never were. And
     4. In seaside autumn
     5. Beside the railway
     6. The skull has evolved
     7. (I sense by its im-
     8. The cranium dome
     9. Poor old page-earth—sized
     10. Mandelshtam’s Greek bees
     11. Even on remote
     12. This craft of the ear’s
     13. Rivers of gasping
     14. (But . . .)
     15. It’s so wisely that
     16. To the futile sound
     17. (O. M.)
     18. Can’t keep up with fierce
     19. (Persephonē)
     20. Against the paper-
     21. The memory of
     22. Well, good-bye! Wishing
     23. In dusk-lit ways, spell
     24. “For your sweet joy, take

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