Lay Me Low by Chris Cheney
There is something super-charged and super-powered about Chris Cheney and his book of poems, Lay Me Low. You will want, not just to read it, but to be part of it. To participate. Join the movement. Order now.
Poetry | 88 pages | 6 x 8 in. | Perfect bound
Release date: 4/12/16
Romance is the sport of enthusiastically
recalling the past, it’s done here a lot too
I drove drunk to Cape Cod but then I can’t
remember is what everyone tells themselves
Lay Me Low is a trespasser’s paradise. It sinks the reader into the sublime; it finds mysticism in the usual. The people in Cheney’s poems dictate bizarre requests for their burials; they talk to their horses; they leave their doors unlocked. Cheney’s voice is ancient as the wind, yet reminiscent of a weirdo in a chatroom. Narrative and lyricism have rarely been interwoven with such style and feeling. This book shakes with laughter; it sings with sadness. You must read it immediately.
Chris Cheney finds poetry “by sensation and watchfulness in itself,” and in so doing his poems encounter salvation just when you think the idea is extinct. Like all great poems, you feel a certain collusion with the poet that you can make a poem out of anything. Give Chris Cheney one mute star in the polluted sky and he will find the poem in it. These poems are remarkable disclosures of belief in poetry itself.
The parasitic poems in Lay Me Low by Chris Cheney speak to us, boss us around, and tell us what we need to know: there’s a doomsday clock ticking to instruct each of us how we’re going to die and when. These poems contain pitch-perfect narratives of a strain that is not only uncomfortably mortal, but also humane. David Steindl-Rast, a Benetictine Monk, said “We eat earth. Not in an abstract way, in a very concrete way. This humus is what we eat, or crystals when we eat salt, it’s pretty obvious that comes out of the earth. That’s earth, directly.” Life is full of crushing accidents. Instead of being humiliated by them, let us perceive, eat the earth, laugh, and listen to this incarnate voice. Cheney listens to this voice and transcribes what he hears: “Things can always get better and things can always get much worse” and “Drop what you have.”