Having and Keeping (Paperback)
Brick Road Poetry Press, Inc., 9780997955910, 96pp.
Publication Date: May 22, 2017
The opening lines of "The Body of My Brother," demonstrate the quality and depth of David Watts' reflective imagination. "First it belonged to my mother / or seemed to, / stuffed into her / like a foot in a sock. / Then it took care of itself / filling out / into home runs, high jumps. / There were times / it must have been afraid / hiding in a bunker / in South Viet Nam." From heated wavelengths, Watts' quiet poems couple with their subjects in an intimacy so strong, you can smell their crackle and spark. When it comes to singing the uncontrollable messiness of family life, growing pain and growth; the stickiness of love life, the clumsiness of loss, the pleasures of cranky togetherness, this little book takes the cake. Take the blues called "Empty" ("Walls and a floor. Five pots / in the cupboard. He didn't mind / the furniture missing. That / he could change. The other missings / he couldn't fix. He watched /as the fear of loneliness / changed places with loneliness." Human loneliness and disconnect -- alongside the undying appetite and need for love -- deliver the theme-song for HAVING AND KEEPING, a poetry celebration to which I came early, stayed late, and linger. From "Affair" I took away another snapshot: "He came for the bed-mate /but was given a companion, one / who opened her door / every time he asked. She made / the emptiness under his rib cage / go away ... the clock slowing / its hands, the bonsai in the window/ beautiful in its narrow soil."
--Al Young, California's former poet laureate; Distinguished Professor, MFA in Writing Program, California College of the Arts, San Francisco
In his newest volume, David Watts draws us back to the wellspring of origins: "They made me / out of farming and music / embryo / with two lines tangled." From the lush pastoral of his roots to the complexities and delights of relationships and parenting, these poems are gorgeous lyrical arrows sent out in many directions at once, never satisfied with the ease of conclusion, proclaiming "the poem will finish when it wants to. But it will not have answers." Abiding in the mystery, touching at the edge of our limitations, Watts turns the matter of our lives over in varied and wondrous ways, revealing "how the world is beyond us / even as we live inside it." Infused with sensory riches and the awe of the "strange lightness of the body," HAVING AND KEEPING offers us its "rare blessing" of beauty.
--Jennifer K. Sweeney, author of LITTLE SPELLS, and HOW TO LIVE ON BREAD AND MUSIC
One of the core tasks of twentieth century poetry has been the widening of poetic circumference: the bringing of new terrain into a knowledge attainable only through the gate of awakened words. Physician and poet David Watts fulfills this task impressively in TAKING THE HISTORY. Here both the meeting of healer and patient and the meeting of technology and the mysteries of the body are deftly and precisely awakened in poems of clarity, a properly humble wisdom, and emotional range."
--Jane Hirshfield, poet, author of eight poetry collections including THE BEAUTY