Taken Somehow By Surprise

Paperback | March 10, 2011

byDavid Clewell

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David Clewell’s spirited poems cut through the noise we too often accommodate in our daily lives. Breath by surprising breath, this poet takes us into chambers of the heart that have never been mapped quite this way before. By turns raucous and strangely soothing, narrative and lyrical, Clewell traffics in unlikely and compelling details of our mostly discernible world: a school custodian’s role in the burgeoning Space Race, the vastness of abandoned missile silos, the first lawn flamingos, and the living fossil still using a typewriter.

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From the Publisher

David Clewell’s spirited poems cut through the noise we too often accommodate in our daily lives. Breath by surprising breath, this poet takes us into chambers of the heart that have never been mapped quite this way before. By turns raucous and strangely soothing, narrative and lyrical, Clewell traffics in unlikely and compelling detai...

David Clewell is author of seven previous collections of poetry, including The Low End of Higher Things and Now We’re Getting Somewhere, 1994 winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. He is Poet Laureate of Missouri as well as professor and director of creative writing in the English department of Webster University in St. Louis.  

other books by David Clewell

The Low End Of Higher Things
The Low End Of Higher Things

Paperback|Mar 18 2003

$22.50

Now We're Getting Somewhere
Now We're Getting Somewhere

Paperback|Oct 15 1994

$19.50

Almost Nothing To Be Scared Of
Almost Nothing To Be Scared Of

Paperback|Apr 1 2016

$19.50

Format:PaperbackDimensions:144 pages, 9 × 7 × 0.5 inPublished:March 10, 2011Publisher:University Of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0299251144

ISBN - 13:9780299251147

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Read from the Book

Just shy of fifty years since it arrived,the classic pink flamingo’s gone extinct,done in by the rising cost of plasticand unrelenting flood of Chinese knockoffs.—from “The Flamingos Have Left the Building”© The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved. At Hamilton Elementary we watched every Mercury launchbetween the Pledge of Allegiance and our ration of morning milkon the battered TV that janitor Geiss always lugged into our room,trailing a whiff of the Lucky Strikes that somehow kept him goingin the humble boiler-room office he liked to call his very ownMission Control.            The entire class would count down togetheruntil the launch-tower fell away, the rocket-booster fuel ignitingwith the kind of brilliant firepower that in those days never failedto lift our skittish hearts into our throats. We were suckersfor anything astronautical—the suits, the helmets, the very ideaof leaving the outmoded Earth behind us for a while. We’d cometo live for the chance of escaping the pull of preadolescent gravity.—from “Home Movies of the Space Race”© The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved. 

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments    


The Accomplice        


I. Somewhere Else We Have to Be        

    This Poem Had Better Be about the World We Actually Live In        

    No More Mail from Baltimore        

    So Much Gone and Going        

    The Flamingos Have Left the Building        

    In My Dream, Coleman Hawkins        

    Goodbye to the Blockhead        

    The Only Time There Is        

    All Night and Always        

    The All-Dressed-Up-and-Going-Nowhere Ghosts        


II. Untold Days on Earth        

    Uncle Bud, Unshaken in the Wake of Sputnik: October 1957        

    Home Movies of the Space Race        

    Not Exactly Rocket Science        

    The Lunar Sympathizers        

    A Brief History of the Moon in Twentieth-Century Song, and Then Some        


III. A Lifetime of Parts & Labor, Guaranteed        

    A Pocket Guide to Trouble        

    The Perfect Stranger        

    Maybe Just One Poem in This Fecund Spring Where Patricia Doesn't Suddenly Appear, Waylaying Whatever It Was I Must Have Had in Mind        

    Danse Clewellian, or: Is There a Doctor in the House?        

    Meanwhile, Back at the Typewriter, I'm Hoping for a Greater Acceptance        

    How the Visiting Poet Ended Up in the Abandoned Nike Missile Silo in Pacific, Missouri, after Surviving a Morning of Grade-School Classroom Appearances on Behalf of One of the Better Impulses in the History of Human Behavior        

    Albert Einstein Held Me in His Arms        


IV. Jack Ruby's America        

    i. Jack Ruby Orders the Chicken Salad: November 21, 1963        

    ii. The Chicago Cowboy        

    iii. Jack Ruby Talks Business with the New Girl: November 21, 1963        

    iv. The Difference a Day Makes        

    v. Jack Ruby Spends His Last New Year's Eve with His Sister, Telling the Truth as He Knows It: Parkland Hospital, December 31, 1966

Editorial Reviews

“David Clewell is an exuberant, inexhaustible poet. . . . His unstoppable narrative energy and his multi-layered curiosity are almost enough to drive this poet out to the far right side of the page.”—Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate