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Jeffrey McDaniel

Jeffrey McDaniel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1967. He received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from George Mason University.

He is the author of five poetry collections, including Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013), The Endarkenment (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008), and Alibi School (Manic D Press, 1995), which the poet Bill Knott called “fresh, provocative, nondoctrinaire.”

According to the poet Khaled Mattawa, McDaniel’s work “chronicles the emotions that jolt us as we stare into the abyss and pulls us away when we’ve seen enough.”

The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, his poems have appeared in two volumes of Best American Poetry. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in the Hudson Valley in New York.


Bibliography

Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013)
The Endarkenment (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008)
The Splinter Factory (Manic D Press, 2002)
Forgiveness Parade (Manic D Press, 1998)
Alibi School (Manic D Press, 1995)

By This Poet

4

Compulsively Allergic to the Truth

I'm sorry I was late.
I was pulled over by a cop
for driving blindfolded
with a raspberry-scented candle
flickering in my mouth.
I'm sorry I was late.
I was on my way
when I felt a plot
thickening in my arm.
I have a fear of heights.
Luckily the Earth
is on the second floor
of the universe.
I am not the egg man.
I am the owl
who just witnessed
another tree fall over
in the forest of your life.
I am your father
shaking his head
at the thought of you.
I am his words dissolving
in your mind like footprints
in a rainstorm.
I am a long-legged martini.
I am feeding olives
to the bull inside you.
I am decorating
your labyrinth,
tacking up snapshots
of all the people
who've gotten lost
in your corridors.

Jonathan

We are underwater off the coast of Belize.
The water is lit up even though it’s dark
as if there are illuminated seashells
scattered on the ocean floor.
We’re not wearing oxygen tanks,
yet staying underwater for long stretches.
We are looking for the body of the boy
we lost. Each year he grows a little older.
Last December you opened his knapsack
and stuck in a plastic box of carrots.
Even though we’re underwater, we hear
a song playing over a policeman’s radio.
He comes to the shoreline to park
and eat midnight sandwiches, his headlights
fanning out across the harbor.
And I hold you close, apple of my closed eye,
red dance of my opened fist. 

Air Empathy

On the red-eye from Seattle, a two-year-old
in the seat behind me screeches

his miniature guts out. Instead of dreaming
of stuffing a wad of duct tape into his mouth,

I envy him, how he lets his pain spurt
into the open. I wish I could drill

a pipeline into the fields of ache, tap
a howl. How long would I need to sob

before the lady beside me dropped
her fashion rag, dipped a palm

into the puddle of me? How many
whimpers before another passenger

joined in? Soon the stewardess
hunched over the drink cart, the pilot

gushing into the controls, the entire plane:
an arrow of grief quivering through the sky.

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