Pavement Saw Chapbook Award Series
Winner of the 1997-98 Chapbook Award
Chosen by Jim Daniels
28 pages, 5.5 by 8.5, Perfect Bound
David Brooks was born and raised in central Pennsylvania. He has worked in a meat packing plant, a hospital, a nursing home, has installed insulation, been a masseur, an advertising copywriter, and, for a brief period of time, a salesman. He lives in Hughesville, PA with his wife. Poems from this collection first appeared in The New Observer (Tokyo) and West Branch.
Right Livelihood is full of both a hard-earned reverence and a refreshing irreverence. David Brooks is not afraid to poke fun at himself--one man trying to cope with life's absurdities. Much of this work is funny, truly joyful. The poems are "expecting something to happen," even on the gritty floor of a meatpacking plant. The wonder here is that something great often does happen. These poems celebrate our continuing urge to dream. As we discard our "golden visions" of our youth, we must replace them with something. The poems of Right Livelihood replace those visions with a bemused acceptance--"all the gaudy world clearing my mind / like an improbable plane gliding / over a mountaintop." These poems are full of the kind of laughter that hurts just a little bit--laughter that sinks in, and stays with you for a long time.
There is a strong consistent personal voice here, one that may have Eros in the stomach or specialize in detesting or renting out illusions. Music, laughter, and insight course like clear water through these poems.
Witty and elegant, unswervingly aware of life's absurdity, the poems in David Brooks' Right Livelihood drill steadily into the heart and make us ask for more.
This belly is not mine,
not the one I imagined
when I was younger and thought
about how it would be
when I got married.
This belly is a rude intrusion
into those dreams, it bumps
into my wife, who also differs
from that golden vision.
She is grander in ways
I never suspected: like my house,
she is bolder and kinder in dimension:
I used to think I would marry
a blonde and live in a shack,
both of us perpetually, pathetically thin.
I push my belly up against my wife
and admire the warmth of the
afternoon soaking into it.
The sun shines in on us
the way I like it, the sun is
the way I always thought
the sun should be.