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Beautiful Country
$18.00
Paperback
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BOOK DETAILS

  • Paperback
  • Sep.28.2010
  • 9780143118374
  • Penguin

Robert gives an overview of the book:

Robert Wrigley's new book is a portrait of a nation, one that is a singular part of a singular planet--an experiment in democratic governance still aspiring toward perfection, with an exuberant and frequently exasperating culture.  In such a country, the glimpse of a horse under a full moon can be a defining moment, full of grace and a new, if not always comfortable, awareness.  So it is with a saved lock of a lover's hair, the memory of a vanished glacier, or a childhood friend disappeared in war.  As it is with a T-shirt company called "American Fear" or with a disabled soldier shaking hands at a gas pump.  Elegiac and lyrical, playful and angry, Beautiful Country offers a vision that is fierce, unflinching, and clear.
Read full overview »

Robert Wrigley's new book is a portrait of a nation, one that is a singular part of a singular planet--an experiment in democratic governance still aspiring toward perfection, with an exuberant and frequently exasperating culture.  In such a country, the glimpse of a horse under a full moon can be a defining moment, full of grace and a new, if not always comfortable, awareness.  So it is with a saved lock of a lover's hair, the memory of a vanished glacier, or a childhood friend disappeared in war.  As it is with a T-shirt company called "American Fear" or with a disabled soldier shaking hands at a gas pump.  Elegiac and lyrical, playful and angry, Beautiful Country offers a vision that is fierce, unflinching, and clear.

Read an excerpt »

COUNTY

 

County of innumerable nowheres, half its dogs

underfed and of indeterminate breed. County

of the deep fryer, staples in glass against mice,

county of horned gods and billed hats.  Sweat county,

shiver county.  The hallowed outhouse

upholstered in wooly carpet, the sack of lime,

time out of time, county of country music.

 

Insufficient snowplows county, county

of the blasted doe all winter in a drift, dust sift

and feather duster county, county of the quo

all status is attached to.  Of batches and bitchdogs

howling, of rowels and boots, of soot wash,

of the chimney sweep’s red beard,

of the songless radio preaching to no one in the shed.

 

County of the deadly road, of the shoat pig roasted

in a pit.  County of molasses, hobo coffee,

and sugarless soft-drink, county of the methamphetamine

picture window, of the padlock and massive hasp.

County of tools and dewormers.  Curry comb

and salt block, black pepper gravy, red-eye venison,

blood sausage, county of Bud Light girl posters.

 

Treblehook county, chum county, bear bait

and dead wolf county.  County of the coyote pelt

nailed to the barn door.  Bruised woman county,

of men missing one or more fingers, single-finger

wave county.  Pistol alongside the cash register.

Pitch-dense firewood county, county of the fearful

and fearless, of the distant mysterious school.

 

Target-poor county, distant WalMart holyland,

malodorous pulp mill and paper plate county.

County of the hundred yard drive to the post office,

oddly familiar faces among the wanted posters,

four hour drive from the county seat county,

unadopted highway, county of no return.

County of August always somewhere burning.

 

Beercan bejeweled barrow pit county, hardly

one bullet-unpunctuated county road sign county.

County of the ATV and ancient Indian trail

into the high mountains.  Get your bull or buck

county.  On-the-way-to-somewhere-else,

doe-see-doe, hundred frozen casseroles

after the funeral, go to heaven county,

 

blister and blister rust county, Jahweh trailerhouse

county, unassisted living, county

of the Gospels and the Penthouse under the bed.

County of tenderness and terror, of almost

universal skepticism, Jesus country county.

County of the cell tower stipend, everywhere

and anywhere, boneyard county, county

 

a day’s drive from the end of the open road.

Softshell Baptist county.  Pentacostal pancake county.

County of illusions and of hard facts.  Rock

and broken shock, rock and roll aught-six

save your shell casing.  County of not quite breath-taking

vistas, of the for sale sign, of timothy and brome,

spring and autumn slaughter county, meat county, home. 

 

 

 

A LOCK OF HER HAIR

 

As a hoodoo-voodoo, get-you-back-to-me tool,

this hank’s thankless task is vast,

a head down to the ground impossibility, possibly,

since what I’m thinking of is your toe pad pinknesses too,

your soup hots and round-and-rounds, the fine

and perfect poundage of you on my paws, the very cause

and problem I moan for and bemoan

the absence of.  For Love, above the head

this reddish coil once lavishly wore, there’s an air so far away

it’s sad for me to even think the same sun’s rays play

where it was and do to you what I would do

if I were there or you were here.  Still, some thrills

remembered do resemble thrills, one hopes, and the ropes

of it that gently fell around me bound me so well

no hell of miles can defile this dream I dream.  I mean

the anyway DNA I can find of you.  I mean the home

of bones and blood that holds the whole of you

and which this fizzed-up missive means to conjure, missy,

my world in a curl, girl, this man oh man half man I am

when you’re gone.

robert-wrigley's picture

Note from the author coming soon...

About Robert

I was born in the Midwest but have lived nearly all of my adult life in Idaho.  I studied writing at the University of Montana, with Madeline DeFrees and Richard Hugo, in the mid-seventies, and I now teach in the MFA program in writing at the University of Idaho.  Awards I've...

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Published Reviews

Sep.15.2008

The beasts get title billing in Robert Wrigley's sixth collection of poems, but Wrigley is most interested in what happens when his animals meet up with what he calls ''the biped, / broad-nailed,...

Sep.22.2008

One book that has brought me particular pleasure is written by Idaho's Robert Wrigley. His title, ''Lives of the Animals," can't tell all the richness of life and death, sensation and insight, that the...

Author's Publishing Notes

"In Wrigley's poems, all aspects of a place are deeply loved and deeply observed . . . . Such love and observation, of course, tell us as much about the poet as about the place, and tell us finally that the two are inseparable . . . . The marvel of Wrigley's poetry is how deeply it makes us, too, of the place." Richard Wakefield, The Seattle Times