Out West with the Ancient of Days: A Review of John Poch’s Texases

Texases (Poems)
by John Poch.
(WordFarm, 2019. 89 pp. $18.00)

In an era of malfeasance and corruption, it’s no surprise that poets revel in apocalyptic apprehensions or seek solace in satirical verse. Poems in these modes are more than necessary balm; they join an esteemed and lasting literary tradition of literary witness. But poems that turn toward landscape and local habitation hold equal heft, as John Poch’s fifth collection, Texases, powerfully attests. A poet of spiritual questing and canny craftsmanship, Poch is consistently recognized for his virtuosity. Two of his books were singled out for outstanding formal achievement: Two Men Fighting with a Knife (2008) won the Donald Justice Award, and Fix Quiet (2015) received the New Criterion Poetry Prize. With Texases, the poet turns his full attention to the geography and inhabitants of his home state, offering readers a lyrically rich and formally varied travelogue that seeks to capture what he described in an interview with Lone Star Literary Life as the “complexity, beauty, and difficulty” of the place.

Night

“I found Branwell ill—he is so very often owing to his own fault— . . . No one in the house could have rest— . . . He has written to me this morning and . . . promises amendment on his return—but so long as he remains at home I scarce dare hope for peace in the house . . .”
….. ….. —Charlotte Brontë to Ellen Nussey, 31 July, 1845
….. ….. Juliet Barker, The Brontës: A Life in Letters

Which Brontë Sister Are You?

Suggested by Internet quizzes that align your answers with one of the sisters’ profiles

You’re just like Emily, quiet and courageous—
You don’t need any man to speak for you.
What secrets are you holding? Let them guess—
like Emily, you’re quietly courageous,
unfazed by ghosts or storms, mysterious…
Your eye is drawn to creatures deemed past rescue.
A free spirit in a vintage dress, you burn, courageous,
untouched by any man who speaks to you.

__