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Potential Stranger

On page after enigmatic page, Killarney Clary shows us her mastery of the prose poem in this spiritual biography that journeys across the natural landscape while plumbing the dizzying depths of the psyche. Potential Stranger reveals that in the public world we are all called upon to perform: as children, we are expected to find a place in the uniform; as entertainers, to play an exaggerated version of ourselves; and, as explorers, to rest content when we have reached our destination. Precise, prophetic, and spare, Clary reminds us that of all the potential strangers we may meet in our travels, people who forever "remain behind gestures and posture," the first and last of those is always the self.

80 pages | 6-1/8 x 8-1/2 | © 2003

Phoenix Poets



“Where mathematics and spirit join, where proof of the existence of mystery—salvific mystery—shimmers just below the surfaces of human perception, experience and the linguistic veil itself, Killarney Clary’s new book—her best to date—dwells, plumbs, persuades and thrills.”

Jorie Graham

“The detached, elongated prose paragraphs of Killarney Clary’s Potential Stranger, her third collection, are framed with cold white space, much like an initial meeting, where ‘That quick shadow below the bridge has something pressing to tell about nearly effortless transformation.’”--Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly

“Killarney Clary’s third book of poems, Potential Stranger, is as enigmatic in tone and reference as its title. Yet despite its mysterious, hermetic shimmer, it is paradoxically clear, a stream of deep emotional rumination. These charged prose poems gather weight and passionate emphasis as they accumulate. Beyond logic, the longings here simplify and answer metaphysical questions that the reader learns to ask as the images offer themselves for ‘deciphering.’”--Carol Muske-Dukes, Los Angeles Times

Carol Muske-Dukes | Los Angeles Times

Table of Contents

Toward you where you must be
The log records preparations
Each born slightly misshapen
One, gentled
At junctures
The man has lost his way in the snow
The body says it can put forth
Icy air presses on the tableland
We climbed to a high altitude
Bright planet
A bitter front arrives
Pieces that jammed
Two magpies
All that isn’t me
Ochre leaves quivered
I tested my cream kid slippers
To tell you
A truck pulled up
We bent for potsherds
No one promised
If I could gather silence
Barely light, still an arch of shine
His body is a pendulum
The last sure thing
He tied his ankle
Confetti lifts over the fairground
Into the land of youth
I dove to where there was no light
Who prayed for us
Two notes
You come as smoke
In this wind
Wimple and guimpe
Beneath pageantry
Elm leaf shadows
The boy had told a rhyme
This is where I am
My love of the surprise
To have tried
Bees of light
The lip of a yellow snapdragon
A clear membrane
Flies bump
This must be held
The exchange rat
The magician tugs one luminous corner
Any one of us might have turned away
El Paso
The wind is a knife
Above San Xavier
A bottle thrown
A small stranger
My hands, pressed
It’s hot
In ratio
Would I dive
The stream’s run dry
I count to myself

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