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Human Costume
July 2009

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Late Breaking
February 2013

Asbestos Brocade

A.E. Stringer

ISBN: 978-1-910669-63-1

Page Count: 78

Publication Date: Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cover Artwork: (and Design): Mary McDonnell

About this Book

Asbestos Brocade furthers this poet’s fascination with nature and the elements: how human action has frayed our bond with the world.  Countering that grave loss are the forces of wonder to be found in art and song, in family, in empathy, in mortality itself.  Naturally, human desire for the one true love (and the many) plays a key role in healing what is broken. 

Art Stringer’s poetry reveals a restive and observant mind attending always to the world around it. More than merely commenting on that world, Stringer’s work commits itself to the study of what we observe every day. Not content to describe, he dares to search for meaning, as if the world in all its multifarious manifestations were a text to be deciphered. The poems are like rocky crags.  With a sudden shift of weight, the cleft that was your handhold turns to a jagged edge that cuts you open.
John Van Kirk
author of Song for Chance

Stringer is a poet of complexity and range… [he] beckons and invites us into his labyrinth.  
Rory Brennan
Books Ireland

Author Biography

A. E. Stringer is the author of three collections of poems, Channel Markers (Wesleyan University Press), Human Costume, and Late Breaking (both by Salmon Poetry).  His work has appeared in such journals as The Nation, Antaeus, The Ohio Review, Denver Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Poetry Northwest, and in Backcountry: Contemporary Writing in West Virginia. He also edited and introduced a new edition of Louise McNeill’s Paradox Hill (West Virginia University Press).  For twenty-four years, he taught writing and literature at Marshall University.  

Read a sample from this book

At the Precipice Bar and Grill

Hawk in the far haze glanced
off an updraft, wingspan shearing
the afternoon.  I could hardly stand

on the deck, keeping my distance,
whiskey medicinal and gusts
in my ears.  Another happy hour

beside myself, saving an empty 
place where once you . . . all that 
twirl and glitter.  I ordered 

a double, watched a couple flirt 
with the edge, then step back, 
turn into arms entwining.  Sky 

burned every shadow blue.
I felt for your hand, illusion of cool 
on my forehead.  Leaning on the rail 

over the tangle of river below, 
I went for a loose end.  Only 
a fever, this reach into freefall.  

Solstice Festivities

for Julia Thomas and John Teel

A wooden Santa stands on the mantel
beside a new candle of Buddha meditating, 
face lit from within.  O puffy gurus 
of giving, we seek whatever peaceful 
jollies you shall grant tonight, season 
of darkness galore, icy star, tree of needles.

Gray sun down and a full moon rising
against the acid and hijinks of another 
American nightmare year-end, we gather 
ourselves in the name of all powers, 
to sing along beyond irony, with Master 
Satchmo: O what a wonderful world.

His wick a shade eccentric, I turn
the Buddha to the mirror where he can
see his own heart’s glow reflected.  We’re
background now, contemplating unruly 
reverence.  If good will can save us, it’s a fair 
miracle, and so much night left to burn.

Dangerous Bends 

From Hook Light to George’s Head 
we’ve rolled around the south like 
bearings in a terrarium.  Coastal cliffs 
long gone black, then one day split
by ice-age sun into rocks that fell
through breaking waves to be ground, 
later yet, to rounder shapes, the ever-

insoluble puzzle of shoreline.
Island of rain and retrospect, of ruin 
and song, where to is ever also from
paradox that won’t fit on a road sign.  
Today it warns us about twisting along 
Corkscrew Hill in the west of Ireland. 
We’re less lost than usual, lightweight
breakable souvenirs in our heads, all
we can carry: peat smoke in wind, 
rusted harrows, then over the next rise,
herring gulls quock in ripples of grass
by blue Atlantic amplitude.  Restless
yes we are, but moved more by two 
pasts: the great one preceding all, 
ineradicable; and the one born 
just now and fleeting in the side mirror.  
An overgrown stone wall sweeps by, 
blurred curtain closing, closing fast.
Map in no one’s hands, we double 
back inland, cruise the narrow fold 
of green and gray that is any Irish road.

All poems copyright © A.E. Stringer 2017

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