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Crackers At Midnight

This book’s title-poem — a small recollection of a hungry boy meeting his grandmother for a secret feast of saltine crackers and butter — is a metaphor for the book itself: a feast of poetic narratives and visions that the reader can savor, indulging in “just one more” until the last page is turned. Two story-poems come from the Pennsylvania landscape: the tale of Pittsburgh’s radioactive millionaire who haunts Allegheny Cemetery, and the childhood memory of a visiting Rabbi who makes a Golem-monster in rural Scottdale. The feast, however, also spans continents and era, as the poet takes us to the grave of Leonardo da Vinci in France, the exhumation of Goethe’s body in Weimar, a flamingo sacrifice by the Emperor Nero, ancient Alexandrian gossip about ibises, and a shattering visit to the home of Emily Dickinson in Amherst. Sometimes the poems inhabit a strange, visionary world, overhearing a prayer on Cyprus from a hunted archbishop, visioning Eldorado rising from a glacial lake, or penetrating the psychology of the Egyptian Pharaoh Snofru. A cluster of nature poems from Edinboro Lake in Northwestern Pennsylvania, and some melancholy contemplations on “The Loved Dead,” round out this collection of 40 poems.

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