B. J. Best

Underneath all the carefully observed the details of life live the larger questions about what it means to be human. B.J. Best’s collection is filled with those details, often rendered in heart-stopping imagery or gentle irony. He shows us a world where a prayer might be found watching “cedar waxwings, cuddled in boughs” or standing at a July 4th gathering “cradling our babies closer/than an oyster polishing its pearl.” Image by image, the answer to every question, to the movement of clouds, the harshness of winter or a wife’s caress must finally be, Yes.

B.J. Best is the author of three books of poetry: But Our Princess Is in Another Castle (Rose Metal Press, 2013), Birds of Wisconsin (New Rivers Press, 2010), and State Sonnets (sunnyoutside, 2009). He has also published three chapbooks with Centennial Press: Drag: Twenty Short Poems about Smoking (2011); Mead Lake, This (2007); and Crap (2005). He teaches at Carroll University and lives in the Wisconsin countryside with his wife, son, their three cats, and the occasional salamander in their basement.

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sandhill cranes

they stand like chessmen in the field
shorn down to stubble, and soon they will slide
across the troubled checkerboard of october:

early frosts slashed through by night.
they are gray and austere as dolphins
etched onto the lid of a coffin, as a tin bucket

filling with a truckload of snow.
this pair of downy candleholders, it is said
they mate for life, relighting their red crowns

again and again. it’s true: my wife
and i made our moves long ago: queen
to knight, cheek to chest, bird to bee.

now, when i stand cooking eggs
in the rookery of our kitchen, or i’m there
reading field guides in the rocking chair.

sometimes i feel grace sweep my neck
like a feather. i expect her to be behind me,
but no: she’s ironing, the fat silver tongue