Skip to main content

That Kind of Happy

October Aubade

If I slept too long, forgive me.

A north wind quickened the window frames
so the room pitched like a moving train

and the pillow’s whiff of hickory
and shaving soap conjured your body

beside me. So I slept in the berth
as the train chuffed on, unburdened

by waking’s cold water, ignorant
of pain, estrangement, hunger and      

the crucial fuel the boiler burned  
to keep the minutes’ pistons churning

while I slept. Forgive me.

That Kind of Happy, the long-awaited second collection by award-winning poet Maggie Dietz, explores the sharp, profound tension between a disquieted inner life and quotidian experience. Central to the book are poems that take up two major life events: becoming a mother and losing a father within a short stretch of time. Here, at the intersection of joy and grief, of persistence and attrition, Dietz wrestles with the questions posed by such conflicting experiences, revealing a mind suspicious of quick fixes and dissatisfied with easy answers. The result is a book as anguished as it is distinguished.

80 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2016

Phoenix Poets



“Dietz often makes the ordinary world interesting by being dissatisfied with it. . . . There’s wariness here about invention, the fear of sham happiness, in consort with the sense that some activity, some making, must be offered up in order for happiness to be earned. Those conflicting imperatives frequently register in the intricate energy of Dietz’s descriptions, which are often sonically dense, carefully lineated, grammatically complex, and observed with imaginative precision.”


“Just ordinary everyday experiences. Death, for instance, oh and a child gets his fingers acetoned by a toothbrush for trying to help a wounded expiring bird, its ‘Black eyes visible through skeins / of lids,’ its ‘soft pink belly like a clam.’ And there’s the ‘gossamer ice’ of a frozen river, like ‘bright / metal hammered fine as the / ghost of the ghost of a moon.’ And the birth of a baby, ‘every one / of its live cells singing / Hosanna for “we praise / you” and “please save / us” as being trains its / way into the lighted room. . . .’ Things like that.  Everyday instances. All these extraordinary human things, the pleasure and the pain, sung about in a versification which is a radiant celebratory light shining on them.”

David Ferry

Table of Contents


Hill Country
Are We There Yet?
1. Origin Myth
2. Adrift
Afternoon at the ER
Late Spring

1. Waking
2. Waiting
3. Pitocin
4. Lidocaine
5. Parturition
Love Song
Diagnosis Dream
One God
October Aubade
Demolition Derby
Another Day, Another Dolor

Still Falling
Fiddle Ode
Thin Ice
Terms of the Disease
April Incantation
Two Shores
Anywhere Elsewhere

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press