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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

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

Vendetta, May 2006

My thoughts are murder to the State and involuntarily go plotting against her.
          —Henry David Thoreau

As if leaving
it behind would
have me lost
in this place, as if

keeping it
could somehow
save me from the
parade of knives,

I have held
my rage on a short
leash like a good,
mad dog whose bright

teeth could keep
the faces of our enemies
well lit. Is it

wrong to hate
the leaders? Am I wrong
to hate their silk
ties and their

secret economies?
Am I wrong? Am I?
Look how they

work the stage
like cool comedians,
ribbing the nations this
way, then that—

gaff after giggle
filling the auditoriums
with the empty
skulls. Maybe this

is the moment
to abandon
metaphor: shouldn't somebody
make them

suffer: now that
war is easy money,
won't the reasons
keep coming to see

how well
people die?

     I guess this
is the world
I was born

into: moonlight,
sunshine—kind city

of my mother's lap, my
father     tossing me

up     and catching me—

I remember
the first time I saw

autumn     outside
my window: the colors

came with the smell
of burning

leaves     and starving
in our basement,

the crickets
trying to stave off

the chill, still working
their little whistles
after dark.

     I think, even
then, I knew a season
would come
for us: the wind

tilting slowly, but
suddenly everyone
is under the cold

still holding on
to their wallets
as the government

quietly turns     and day
after day, the terrible stories

cover everything.