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Tim Seibles

Tim Seibles was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1955. He received a BA from Southern Methodist University in 1977, after which he taught English at the high school level for ten years. He received an MFA from Vermont College in 1990.

Seibles is the author of several poetry collections, including One Turn Around the Sun (Etruscan Press, 2017), Fast Animal (Etruscan Press, 2012), a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award; Buffalo Head Solos (Cleveland State University Press, 2004); and Body Moves (Corona Press, 1988).

In the citation for the 2012 National Book Awards, the National Book Foundation notes, “Tim Seibles’ work is proof: the new American poet can’t just speak one language. In his new book, he fuses our street corners’ quickest wit, our violent vernaculars, and our numerous tongues of longing and love.”

In 2016 Seibles was selected as the poet laureate of Virginia. He has also received the Open Voice Award, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Seibles has served as a professor at Old Dominion University for over twenty years. He lives in Norfolk, Virginia.


Selected Bibliography

One Turn Around the Sun (Etruscan Press, 2017)
Fast Animal (Etruscan Press, 2012)
Buffalo Head Solos (Cleveland State University Press, 2004)
Hammerlock (Cleveland State University Press, 1999)
Hurdy-Gurdy (Cleveland State University Press, 1992)
Body Moves (Corona Press, 1988)

By This Poet

5

Ode to My Hands

Five-legged pocket spiders, knuckled
starfish, grabbers of forks, why
do I forget that you love me:
your willingness to button my shirts,
tie my shoes—even scratch my head!
which throbs like a traffic jam, each thought
leaning on its horn. I see you

waiting anyplace always 
at the ends of my arms—for the doctor,
for the movie to begin, for 
freedom—so silent, such 
patience! testing the world
with your bold myopia: faithful,
ready to reach out at my 
softest suggestion, to fly up 
like two birds when I speak, two 
brown thrashers brandishing verbs
like twigs in your beaks, lifting 
my speech the way pepper springs 
the tongue from slumber. O! 

If only they knew the unrestrained 
innocence of your intentions, 
each finger a cappella, singing
a song that rings like rain
before it falls—that never falls!
Such harmony: the bass thumb, the
pinkie's soprano, the three tenors
in between: kind quintet x 2
rowing my heart like a little boat
upon whose wooden seat I sit
strummed by Sorrow. Or maybe 

I misread you completely
and you are dreaming a tangerine, one
particular hot tamale, a fabulous
banana! to peel suggestively,
like thigh-high stockings: grinning
as only hands can grin 
down the legs—caramel, cocoa, 
black-bean black, vanilla—such lubricious 
dimensions, such public secrets!
Women sailing the streets 
with God's breath at their backs. 
Think of it! No! Yes:
let my brain sweat, make my 
veins whimper: without you, my five-hearted 
fiends, my five-headed hydras, what 
of my mischievous history? The possibilities
suddenly impossible—feelings 
not felt, rememberings un-
remembered—all the touches 
untouched: the gallant strain 

of a pilfered ant, tiny muscles 
flexed with fight, the gritty 
sidewalk slapped after a slip, the pulled 
weed, the plucked flower—a buttercup! 
held beneath Dawn's chin—the purest kiss,
the caught grasshopper's kick, honey,
chalk, charcoal, the solos teased
from guitar. Once, I played 
viola for a year and never stopped

to thank you—my two angry sisters, 
my two hungry men—but you knew
I just wanted to know
what the strings would say 
concerning my soul, my whelming
solipsism: this perpetual solstice
where one + one = everything
and two hands teach a dawdler
the palpable alchemy
of an unreasonable world. 

Zombie Blues Villanelle

There are days I believe there ain' nothing to fear
I perk up for green lights, my engine on call
But it could be the zombies are already near

That sleep that we feed every day of the year
What's up with your friends when they circle the mall?
There are nights when I think I have no one to fear

My Mom watches Oprah to brighten the drear
You can keep your eyes open, see nothing at all
But it might be the zombies are already near

You think life is s'posed to be lived in this gear?
I been askin' that question till my brain has gone raw
Certain days I believed I had nothing to fear

I have dreams that I'm driving with no way to steer
You can growl like a cello; you can chat like a doll
Don't it seem like the zombies are already here?

I think fear itself is a whole lot to fear
I have watched CNN till it made my skin crawl
I might be a zombie that's already here

I been pounding this door but don' nobody hear
You can drink till you think that you're seven feet tall
There were midnights I danced without nothin' to fear

You can fly through your days until time is a smear
Maybe blaze up the bong   or blog out a blog

There'll be days when it feels like there's nothing to fear
But you could be a zombie    that's already here.

Faith

Picture a city
and the survivors: from their
windows, some scream. Others
walk the aftermath: blood
and still more blood coming
from the mouth of a girl.

This is the same movie
playing all over
the world: starring everybody
who ends up where the action
is: lights, cameras, close-ups—that
used to be somebody's leg.

Let's stop talking
about God. Try to shut-up
about heaven: some of our friends
who should be alive       are no longer alive.
Moment by moment death moves
and memory doesn't remember,

not for long: even today—even
having said
this, even knowing that
someone is stealing
our lives—I still
had lunch.

Tell the truth. If you can.
Does it matter     who they were,
the bodies in the rubble: could it matter

that the girl was conceived by two people
buried in each other's arms, believing
completely in the world between them?

The commanders are ready. The gunners
go everywhere. Almost all of them
believe in God. But somebody should

hold a note     for the Earth,
a few words for whatever being

human     could mean
beneath the forgotten sky:

some day one night,
when the city lights go out for good,

you won't believe how many stars