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Ancestor Worship
June 2007

Future Blues

Michael S. Begnal

ISBN: 978-1-907056-90-1

Page Count: 86

Publication Date: Saturday, September 01, 2012

Cover Artwork: Kyle Fitzpatrick, “Theater” (mixed media on canvas, 95” x 96”, 2007),

About this Book

Michael S. Begnal’s Future Blues is both a progression of and a break with his previous collection, Ancestor Worship. Inasmuch as any poet’s work is a continuing narrative defined by nothing more or less than chronological time, Future Blues is the collection that follows its immediate predecessor and so cannot help but be aware of it. Yet, as Begnal has written, “The best musicians, writers, and artists for me are the ones who, either steadily over time or perhaps in radical bursts, change their style or approach – each new work in part an effort to surpass the previous.” The Irish Literary Supplement described Ancestor Worship as “an attempt at reconstructing an obscured heritage.” While traces of such an impulse inevitably recur, Future Blues hurtles forward seeking out “new images and modes of being” (as one poem puts it), even as our collective future – death – looms.

Future Blues, in its title, lashes Irish poetry past and future into alliance – a desperate, daring act. Is that a space between “Future” and “Blues” or a caesura? Whichever, it offers a narrow stage for the uneasy demi-monde of the present, where the Ghosts of Irish Poetry Past and Future meet, and merge. This is a poetry of trace and gesture, of tree and leaf, of light and surfaces, of haze and mark, drink, decline and persistence; a poetry of disjunctiveness which swells notably into cohesive poems in English and Irish – cohesive but still textured; a poetry of anomalies, stitched across time and culture from Mongán to Laurence Sterne to Frank O’Hara to Ron Asheton, often fragile, always intelligent, bristling with formal spice.  Mairéad Byrne

Author Biography

Michael S. Begnal was born in 1966. His previous collections are Ancestor Worship (Salmon Poetry, 2007), Mercury, the Dime (Six Gallery Press, 2005), and The Lakes of Coma (Six Gallery Press, 2003). His poems, essays and reviews have appeared internationally in numerous journals and anthologies, in print and electronically. He was editor of the Galway, Ireland-based literary magazine The Burning Bush as well as the book Honeysuckle, Honeyjuice: A Tribute to James Liddy (Arlen House, 2006). In 2008, Begnal earned an MFA from North Carolina State University. He currently lives in the city of Pittsburgh where he teaches poetry and composition.

Author photograph: Emily Rutter

Read a sample from this book

Blues for Tomorrow


haven’t you always
always stood standing

nobody else will know these,
some vague memory of autonomy
hovering in the daze
so that suddenly
           NOW is called transition

orange and blue
[something scribbled out]

future blues/
nothing will be okay
nothing remains pristine for long
stretched out in dark bed,
the spectacular lights of death

all this terror,
the flying humanoids in the air for real,
     the sinister people who want
     to come back from the past,
     a leafless time
     that wind shook

standing at the window ledge
looking out at the fields
or on whatever street,
no one feels

in the eyes the flesh and hair
and the hair juts below the belly,

and even below, the dark of the nest

Grab the Polaroid

Grab the polaroid
and head down to where they spray graffiti
on brick walls
and piss in alleys

the canal flows nearby
clogged with dead leaves of limitless autumns,
sometimes with suicides—
I mean that wasn’t no dream
when you saw the police at the iron railing
looking down

or instead the river’s mouth
at high tide a vast black pool,
cormorants wrestle with writhing eels,
          light glints
                    on rubbery scales
          iron-blue beak
                    swallows alive—

don’t drop off the edge of the

Copyright © Michael S. Begnal 2012


Radio Interview: Michael S. Begnal discusses his poetry, and the publication of 'Future Blues' on Riverwest Radio (August 2012)

Listen to the interview here>>

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