Here’s What People are Saying About My Latest Book

“The poems in Shawn Pavey’s Nobody Steals the Towels From a Motel 6 examine the seasons in the author’s life, broken down into days and then into moments, whether it’s a warm Kansas City wind, drinking on 39th Street, or a moment of quiet contemplation filled with the uncertainty that comes with just being alive in the 21st century. Pavey’s poems are straight and honest, taking the time to just live now and put it all down on paper, something that the rest of us usually put off until tomorrow. His words are as spare as bone, leaving the wind and taking nothing for granted.” John Dorsey, author of Appalachian Frankenstein

“Shawn Pavey’s poems capture the longing we feel when we lift the needle from a record album. In the turntable’s wishwiswish between Stratocaster riffs, there lies hope and resignation, Bruce Springsteen and hungry cats, maple leaves and ‘plastic blasted into space.’ Pavey’s poems give voice to our hunger for life, a medieval song heard through 21st Century earbuds.” Al Ortolani, author of Francis Shoots Pool at Chubb’s Bar and Waving Mustard in Surrender.

“In Nobody Steals the Towels From a Motel 6, I was reminded of how a gifted poet like Shawn Pavey doesn’t try to convince his readers to have things we don’t need but to slyly persuade us to open our eyes to the presence of the treasure of those things we cannot live without. In this book we have love, surprise, death, angels and more pictured for us in a flow of language both ordinary and extraordinary gracing us with a dancing vocabulary’s most lyrical and unforgettable choreography.” Chuck Sullivan, author of Zen Matchbook and Alphabet of Grace.

Winding Down as the World Wakes

Morning

It is a simple act,
the brewing of coffee in the chill
of a dark March morning.

My cheap automatic drip machine
belches and spits a grotesque sound
as pleasing as any cello concerto
or crow squawk,
making music to make me wake.

The sun will rise soon.

This sky will move from black to gray
and from the window of this low-rent,
one-bedroom apartment
I’ll see the three-story side of Queen City
TV & Appliance,
its top to bottom cracked wall anointed
with a healing concrete salve and stitched up
by two iron bars bolted into brick.

But now it is only a black slab in invisible decay
in the shadows of new monuments
straining up from downtown Charlotte streets,
scratching at the horizon with jagged spires of steel and glass
shiny like aluminum foil crowns
littering the sky like a playground.

Cars already begin to sputter by on the streets below.
A block away to the West, an ambulance siren screams,
dopplering around a corner.
Buses will soon lumber by
with their high pitched diesel moans and sighs,
short sharp squeals of air brake expulsions.

Ceiling creakings above me signify movement,
an unknown body staggering
into the consciousness of another day.
It is business a s usual:
a toilet flush,
a cascading of pressure-fed water through
a shower nozzle
bouncing off a metal tub.

The sun has risen, silently.

I somehow always expect to hear it creak and groan
in the well-worn motions of a task
so ancient and lasting
that maybe we don’t even notice the sounds;
the universe itself being such a well-oiled,
well-maintained cog works,
its machinations leaving us in a silence
we don’t even notice our own noisy bumbling
through the days and nights of our movement.

And remarkable even yet is the singing of birds,
pigeons and robins,
dingy with the dusts of city living.
Early morning light finds them perched on power lines
through which the juice of coffee makers and electric alarm clocks
flows in turbine generated currents.

The brick wall through my window begins to glow
as only orange and red cooked clay can,
vibrant and dull.

Coffee has brewed and I sip it slowly in new light
where somewhere away from this city
dogwood trees bloom fragrant, crucifix blossoms
and finches and towhees may sing sweeter songs
than the awkward soundings
of mocking birds on telephone lines
in the center of a rumbling city

yawning and cursing itself awake.

© 2008 by Shawn Pavey.  All rights reserved.

 

For Lucille Clifton

Dear Lucille
On the passing of Lucille Clifton, 1936 – 2010

I would like to think
that B.B. King named his guitar for you.
I know he didn’t. We in the know
know the myth
the real story –

we know that it is not you
whom he played to make music so sweet
that I, a grown man, cry when I hear it –

but I am comforted thinking it is so
even though you did not need a man
for making music, your wide hips
spinning men like tops
(we never doubted it for a second!)

and your words spinning out
to the sky because the pages could not
hold them for long, Lucille,
could not keep them silent all black and white

your words like you bigger than what they laid upon
and they echo like you now that you’re gone

so that sadness cannot take
hold for long, Lucille.

© 2010, Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.