Tag Archive for: book|Poetry

I grew up without guesswork about where we were going to live or what we were going to eat. The rotation of Stouffer’s meals went something like this: Monday: turkey tetrazzini; Tuesday: stuffed bell peppers; Wednesday: creamed chipped beef; Thursday: chicken pot pie; Friday: lasagna. I don’t remember the weekend meals much, though we would occasionally go out to eat. And I was as certain as a person could be that we would never move. That brick house on Garfield Street with its slate roof and radiator heat was part of my mother. She embodied it. There was simply no place else for her to reside. 

How I knew my mother had something incurable is hard to say, except we have all witnessed how a dog senses a thunderstorm long before the rest of us. That’s the best way to explain it. My entire childhood, I felt something menacing burgeoning in her, something slow growing, taking over her body. She was a stately, modest woman, and I’d never seen her in anything other than pants suits and house dresses, occasionally a flannel nightgown. Still, I knew that underneath those garments, something had gone irreparably wrong. And when it grew worse, became bigger, overtook her all the way—who would take care of me then? And I was right. The year after leukemia cells got the best of her, The Washington Post ran a front-page story.: photographs of the contaminated soil she’d played in as a kid, pictures of the very street in Spring Valley she lived on cordoned off, her house, her lawn, on the front page of The Post. Turns out, her neighborhood had been a bomb testing ground during World War I. The Army Corps of Engineers has proclaimed the area uninhabitable. As I write this, they are conducting a clean-up of a one-mile wide swath of northwest Washington. 

I still have my mother’s address book, a blue three-inch hardback I remember buying together on one of our rare outings. She entered names with a black flair pen in her flawless, left-handed script. Whenever someone moved, she marked through the old address and wrote the new one below it. If someone died, she blacked out the most recent address, then wrote the date of death. Even though much of the book had cross-throughs, she refused to buy another. I can understand why. 

I wonder about the van driver who drove my mother’s body from the hospital to the funeral home. It was January, icy and cold. Was he listening to the news? Was she smoking a Salem Light? Did he know what cargo he had? When Gauler’s Funeral Home told us we needed to confirm the body as hers, Clark stood up without pause. Four minutes later, when he came back to the conference room where we were meeting with the funeral home director, his face revealed nothing of what he had just seen: our mother, dead under a white sheet, about to be burnt up. I’ve never asked my brother about it, but my gratitude for his taking on that task will never, ever fade. 

Yesterday my students and I set out to compile a list of agreed-upon facts: oil floats on water, if you touch its whiskers a cat will blink, the earth is not flat, pearls melt in vinegar. But the exercise got tricky real quick. We all had to agree it was an agreed upon fact. How long do houseflies live? Do elephants cry? Does time speed up when you get older? In Hindi, there is a phrase: to me, your memory comes. It is the same as our saying I miss you. Hindus use it to address the living. I employ it for the dead. My mother’s memory comes to me. I miss her. Because she was an expert at staying distant in real life (agreed upon fact) now that she’s gone, I miss her in a way that does not fade, guileless and dependable as Elmer’s Glue.

Sometimes I miss my mother so much she turns into the woman on the city bus, the stranger carrying a bag stuffed with cans of cat food. She becomes the single sound I can hear, all my attention has room for. When I got the news of her death, I turned into someone else, and for a very long time—a shocking alchemy. I became a motherless daughter. I became an orphan. 
My train is rolling slowly north, rural Virginia countryside. In the town of Orange, I see into shop windows, the tracks mere feet from Main Street. On one corner, a man exuberantly waves a brown paper bag at the passing train. The passenger seated across the aisle from me does not open the book that’s perched on his lap—but I don’t really expect him to. He looks like he’s just heard bad news, the kind you keep on hearing long after the words have been said. The kind that hangs in the air, stagnant and suffocating. It reminds me that there is no good way to get such news, and that there is no wrong way to mourn. On the train, I read a novel, translated from Italian, entitled The Days of Abandonment. Like most books I love, it’s hard to say what it’s about. There’s regret and loneliness, there’s suspicion and disfigurement. And there’s this sentence: we carry in our head until we die the living and the dead. My mother, though she’s been dead for two decades, peoples my head as much as—no, far more than—living people I see every day. There she is in her sitting room, as real to me as these words, as real as paprika. 

gloss . a . ry |ˈgläs-ə-rē|


plural glossaries

an alphabetical list of terms or words found in or relating to a specific subject, text, or dialect, with explanations; a brief dictionary.

  1. The daughter makes a glossary of the peculiar things the mother and father say.

gosh |gäSH| dag . nab . it |dagnabit|


a euphemism for a widely-used phrase in which a deity is invoked to curse someone to heck, which is another euphemism for a widely-used word representing the devil’s fiery realm. This substitution is most often made by those averse to swearing and those strictly observing the Third Commandment. This aversion to curse words may be imposed by one’s self, one’s religious institution, or one’s spouse.   

  1. When the father misses a serve during a tennis match, he slaps his palm to his forehead and screams, “Gosh dagnabit, Bob, you flipping idiot!”

guy . sies |gīzēz|


plural of the plural form of guy

typically used as a term of endearment to identify or address a group of people with whom the speaker feels particularly close, usually members of one’s own family. 

  1. The family is playing a card game. The mother, out of nowhere, says, “Guysies, I like books about little mice.”

singular form (rare): guysie 

  1. When all the children have left the nest, the mother turns to the father and says, “Guess it’s just you and me, guysie.”

heav . ens |ˈhevəns| to |toō| Bet . sy |betsē|

noun, preposition, proper noun

an exclamation of disapproval or disgust, having nothing to do with an angelic abode or a woman named Betsy.

  1. The mother takes the daughter to a movie. When they return to the car after the movie has ended, they discover that they have left the lights on and the engine is dead. The mother nervously calls the father from the payphone in the movie theater to tell him what has happened. He yells, “Heavens to Betsy, Ellen! Can’t you do anything right?” and then promptly grabs the keys and rushes to the car to rescue them.

woo . ey |woōē|


used to express delight, surprise, or disapproval

  1. The mother’s parents call to invite the father and the mother to join them on a trip to Egypt. The mother hangs up and remains sitting in the chair saying, “Wooey! Wooey! Wooey!” over and over again before she finally gets up to fold the laundry.
  2. The mother is in the kitchen doing dishes late at night after the children have been tucked into bed. The father goes around to the backside of the house and lights his face up with a flashlight outside the window where the mother is washing the dishes. The mother screams, calms down a bit and, resuming her scrubbing, says, “Wooey!”
  3. The mother is watching a movie with her family. The couple on the screen begins to kiss passionately. The mother squirms in her chair and says, “Wooey! They sure don’t kiss like they used to. It looks like they’re eating each other!”

woo . ey |woōē| guy . sies |gīzēz|

exclamation followed by the plural of a plural noun

used to express extreme delight, surprise, or disapproval to a group of people with whom the speaker feels extremely close, almost always members of one’s own family. 

  1. The mother comes home, all lit up from a church activity she has just attended. 

She exclaims, “Wooey guysies, women love crafts!”

The daughter challenges her on this, saying, “Mom, you don’t even like crafts.”

The mother, modifying her statement, says, “Wooey guysies, most women love crafts!”The daughter often says “Wooey guysies!” in mimicry of the mother. She uses it at first to poke fun at the mother and then, later, because she finds it endearing.

The Kitchen

“A wise woman puts a grain of sugar into everything she says to a man,

and takes a grain of salt with everything he says to her.”

                                                                                                –Helen Rowland

They showed me how to finger wild carrot blunts,

snip flowered kale leaves, tear the terse from sturdier

stems. The kitchens I knew were womanless; full

of men who cooked, silently, mouths riven enough

to sample sauce or graze. I snuck in, helped them

cut, trim, heft handfuls of severed greens into bowls

covered and ready to simmer.  Shaved frozen

butter into flour, a few splashes of water, careful

not to knead too much or you’ll kill it, then

rimmed wily sides of pans with flattened dough

stabbed by a fork so the apples could breathe

sugar.  I peeled and stripped knots of ginger,

gleaned scallions, sliced them into thin rings

stuck to each other.  Stout, bolder onions startled

tears that filmed and blurred everything I saw. 

I guarded myself cutting meat, for how I sliced

through a thumb once.  There was the bled wound

a man mended with the same fat needle and thread

he used to stitch a turkey.  Nights were bottomless,

boiling pots of water; days: pans seared with oil,

peppers sautéed crimson.  Years honeyed into

turnip torment; the past a splash of vinegar

that worried beets from plum to sanguine,

potatoes yellowed into curry, anise clumps. 

To cook with men was to learn how to season

the world into something we’d consume, and we

did.  Quickly.  I loved the exquisite, pinioned forms

of their hostile hands, scarred fingers that pinched

saffron, gripped iron skillets scorched with living. 

I tasted everything.  There was one who handled

lit flames and fired garlic into chords of music I’d

never forget.  A mound of ripe tomatoes we stacked

into a tower leaning crimson, on the verge of falling.

He places a pillow across my lap,

then lets loose a joke about saving dignity.

He wants to check my scar, and the whole team

descends from their orbit to watch his cold hand

test a red line the length of my stomach

that closes where the stomach had been.

From their fingernail’s slice of cratered moon

they assemble the daily surgical theater

where I come and go, lifting and dropping my gown.

His fingers probe around the plate, reading auguries.

Then like a held breath retreating from stench,

the team deflates, the demonstration ended.

But today, there’s special providence:

the pathology drops like a winged thing

wounded. Like the one I’d found on the patio,

its feet still curled around some absent branch.

The sparrow had the look of a toppled-over

sleepwalker. My hand stuck in protective layers

of thin plastic grocery bags, I was afraid

that what I touched would spark, would wake and fly,

even though that’s what I should have wanted

for it. No readiness can cure that.

It’s okay. I, too, have failed

at the expected, have sputtered

and choked like a rusty valve

in water, have jumped into the pool

only to sink. Little engine, your flawed

machinery is nothing like love. You limp

at last call to the dance floor,

but feel no shame

in your offbeat two-step,

your eleventh-hour shuffle

in a dead man’s shoes.

There’s nothing left

but the encore, so go ahead:

relax, unravel

like a loosened knot. Overripe

fruit in his chest, you blush

with uncertainty, bruise yourself

tender; little heart, tiny treasure,

sweeten to the point of spoil.

With his mind so neatly made up, Richard Peabody never saw them coming. Through the miasma of overpriced petroleum wafting from the gas tank of his dusty Seville, he’d never even considered in his biblically allotted seventy years the prospect of such pure meanness crossing his path a quarter mile from the brick rancher he’d shared with his first and only wife, where last Easter they’d burned their thirty-year mortgage in the hearth. Paying no mind, pumping his premium at the Gas N Go out Highway 9, Peabody, a retired CPA, Braves fan and Presbyterian vestryman, sniffed for his favorite vice from the boiled peanut stand at the parking lot’s crumbled edge. Steam from the cast-iron kettle rose against the curtain of kudzu that choked the scrub woods, the summer’s hatch of insects screamed in the imprisoned shade. Too late, he heard: “Mister, can I ask you something?” 

What? Peabody could smell him before he saw him, the lanky youth in the orange jumpsuit, reeking of work crew sweat. No, he didn’t think so. No good came from talking to strangers, young ones at that, who always asked Peabody to buy them beer.

He never saw the second one, only felt the blow from behind. The hose snatched from the tank and wound tight about his windpipe, the gas pumping against his pulse. Their swift hands dug through his suspendered trousers for his keys, loose change, money clip, cellphone, his balls. He drifted into darkness, then came to with a splash of high-test petroleum on his face. 

“Tell me, mister, you smoke?” 

He couldn’t see a face, only the back of a hand painstakingly tattooed to depict a naked woman struggling in a demon’s claw. The inked hand loomed larger, holding a plastic butane lighter, and he heard the small scraping of the wheel before the world flashed white. 

At a station too cheap for security cameras, the sole witness was the black msan in the peanut shack, half-blind with glaucoma, who saw the fatal flash, a fire juggling arms and legs as the Seville fishtailed from the parking lot where what little was left of Richard Peabody lay incinerated.


A couple of states later,[1]  the Seville sped down the mountain with no headlights—no need, given the monstrous moon overhead, swallowing the stars, lending a ghostly glow to the benighted world below. 

Jimmy Bray stretched his scrawny right arm out the window, grabbing fistfuls of empty air, then banged his raw knuckles against the still hot roof of the stolen car. He’d spent the first couple of hours running the electric window up and down and hollering into the fleeting woods until he was hoarse, but he still couldn’t shut up: “You believe that shit? Whumph, man, just like that! Fucked up that fucker real bad.”

 All of eighteen, Jimmy Bray had never seen a man burned alive, and it was a sight that had scalded his tender eyes. He hung his head dog-like out the window and gulped free air, trying to get the burnt smell out of his nostrils. He ducked back in and drummed the dashboard. Four hours free and counting. Out of useless habit, he cocked his arm and studied his bare wrist, as if he could tell time from the happy fact that no manacle encircled him yet.

He began to wonder. “We ain’t lost?” 

 “We ain’t been found.” 

Angel didn’t talk much, but you could see the faintest glint of the moonlight on his eyetooth. Homeboy sure had himself some tats, Bray noticed now, ink running up his arm and into the torn sleeve of the orange jumpsuit, exposed brown skin etched not in the seasick green verdigris of most jailhouse art, but a raised filigree of ghostly white welts, a line that looped the wrinkled point of Angel’s elbow, but turned into the maw of a bony face. Shuddering, Bray could swear the demon winked.

With the dashboard dark, he couldn’t see the speedometer or fuel gauge, but Angel evidently could, if only by the feel of the wheel hand over hand, and the squealing complaint of the tires negotiating the corkscrew curves. They must have been running on fumes. No gas station in sight.

“Where the hell are we?” Bray wondered, and the answer flashed ahead—Yonah Fire District—before the metal sign was swallowed in the brilliant shadows cast by the moonlight. 

Oncoming high-beams flashed round the curve. Blinded, with bloody floaters across his burning field of vision, Bray craned his neck, following crimson brake lights around the bend. Angel slowed, eying the rearview mirror. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three—and there, it returned around the rock face, racing down the road with the cobalt lights strobing, the short squawks of the siren.

“Damn, no lights! Turn on the lights!” 

But Angel was braking, pulling onto the shoulder, eyes on the mirror as the State Patrol cruiser slipped behind them, then stopped, shooting the high-beams and the side spotlight into their cab. Insects flitted through shafts of white light. 

Run, run, Bray was praying. He could see the trooper silhouetted by his own high beams, left hand holding the standard issue flashlight head-high, the right already unsnapping the gun holster.

 “Wait, wait,” Angel whispered, hands gripping the wheel, eyes glinting in the mirror. He shifted into reverse. 

Bray was flung forward, banging his forehead against the dashboard, then whiplashed like a rag doll against the headrest as their Seville slammed into the grille of the Crown Vic. The advancing flashlight was lost in the crash of chrome and glass and Bray felt a deeper thunk beneath their chassis. The rear wheels began to spin, and a foul burning smell hung in the air. Angel jammed the stick into drive, and there was the sickening thump again, the slight, lifting roll of the tire over the torso of the state trooper.

Angel hit the lights and the tires bounced off pavement through the curve and took the opening in the trees to an overgrown logging road, descending to a cow path, narrowing into a dead creek bed, their headlights bouncing up and down over boulders, like one of the tricked-out lowriders Bray had seen on TV, hopscotching down barrio streets in L.A. But this wasn’t the city, and it was like no country Bray knew. As they pitched headlong into darkness, laurel leaves slapped at the windshield, branches broke, and the glass fractured into a brilliant spiderweb in the moonlight. Angel and his demon-inked arms wrestled with the wheel until the car let out a horrendous metallic scream, the front axle snapped like a twig, and their descent at last halted. 

 “Fuck me, we’re dead men!” 

Bray fell out the door. On the mountainside above, the blue lights were still swinging through the treetops. He scrambled against the dented quarter panel, grabbing for purchase at the flattened tire. It may have been mud, maybe oil, but a warm wetness dripped on his hand from the rear wheel well. Five hours free now, he aimed to get the hell away from Angel Jones, no telling what that dude was liable to do or who next.

Bray began to run into the bright night.

On the Ground

Can you write while you drive?
Hello, windows! Hello, wind! Hello, sour earth smell 
and wheels on pavement with wind in my hair. 
Good morning, Almedia! Good morning, fifth gear!
Where have you been all this time?

Good morning, water on the shoulder, bayou overflowing.
Good morning, blue sky Norco factory with your fires burning.
Good morning, egrets and herons and crab traps!
Crab traps? Good morning, good morning!
Good morning, LaPlace and roadside okra stands!
Now I’m passing Jacob’s World Famous Andouille and his two-story tall 
plywood weenies. Good morning, Michael Taft, and thanks again for the CD 
you sent last Christmas. I just found it under the seat—
Look, Ma, no hands! And this CD is called Arma Get It On!

Good morning, intricately carved roadside cross.
Thanks for not being just another couple of sticks
with fake flowers attached. Good morning, chemical clouds 
over working refinery! Good morning, knee driving wheel 
and ball of Spanish moss tumbling across the road.
Ha! I zipped over you, seventy miles per hour—
and you’re still tumbling across the road behind me!

So what if my husband and I are angry and driving
in opposite directions—is that why the road ahead
dissolves in shiny flecks of chrome and light?
I called Delta this morning. I said, Cancel my flight.
She said, I can’t refund the ticket. I said, Cancel my flight.
Who would let go of the earth at a time like this?


For years the trees had no one
to look over them.

Rains followed by drought
followed by floods and other hardships

kept them alone in the cycle
of winter, spring, summer, fall.

Sometimes they shivered
while snow balanced on branches.

Cars drifted past, wide brims of light at night,
not even a glance, and the ground

was absorbed with its own issues
of sun or shade, rain or dew.

Finally from a nearby window came the faces 
of two girls and their voices calling to the birds

who sang in the trees, the deer chewing leaves, 
the rabbits and squirrels, Quiet, be quiet,

our mother’s sick and she’s sleeping.
Day after day their mother turned

toward the window—awakening.

IN THOSE DAYS we gathered in the parlor for the mail. The postman stuffed mailboxes without speaking to us, and our hearts either rose or fell. Later the payphone in the hallway would ring, and one of the girls would answer. You could hear her from your bed. Hello? Oh hey. Sometimes the phone would ring and ring, and I’d go answer. It was him again. His crusty voice betrayed his age. 

How’s my girl today? 

Men circled the college in their cars alone, slowly driving. We were like candy, we were like drugs, we were the pink of their dreams. Five hundred single girls sleeping in little rooms, windows open to the fresh air. 

My girl, my man said, tell me what you’ve been up to.

I never meant to talk to him so much or even learn his name. But in those days we didn’t know what we didn’t know. On weeknights after the sun went down, we withdrew into our rooms. The hall phone rang, someone answered. Another call came, and another, always someone answering. It was our only phone. I waited my turn. As the night went on and the air fell silent and finally I heard the lone searching call, I picked up.

Tell me what you’ve been up to, he’d go, and I’d say something like doing my nails. So tell me what that looks like, and I’d describe my bed. Because he liked to hear about my bed. I do everything on my bed, I told him, I read and do homework and drink hot chocolate and make sandwiches and sketch in my sketchbook on my bed. Now I’m doing my nails on my bed, so I’ve got these little scissors and a new bottle of polish called Hot Kimono, and if I’m not careful it’ll tip and ruin my bedspread. My bedspread? White with little roses, just like you imagine.

Ruby, he’d say. My made-up name. I need to meet you.

That you cannot do, I’d say, and I’d hear his cheek rub against the receiver. But you can call me tomorrow.

In those days some girls cried about not having a boyfriend, while some dropped out of college when they got one. Then there were the girls who were in love with each other. They lived in Horton Hall. I didn’t know any of them, but when I passed beneath their windows it gave me something to think about.

My man said, tell me about the girls, and I’d tell him about the lesbians. Just to see what he’d say. I’d describe girls holding hands in the dark. Really, he’d say, holding hands? But then I’d tell him it’s nothing, it’s just friendship. Sometimes girls just want to get close to each other. Oh yeah, he’d say, and his voice would drift away. I pictured him in a dingy kitchen with a buzzing refrigerator; I had him in a chair at his kitchen table with a Formica top, his spotted hands clutching a coffee mug. A widower, retired, with no one to talk to but me. 

And whose hand do you hold, he’d ask. No one’s, I’d tell him. And no one is fine with me.

Not everybody is a link in a chain.

In those days you could keep to yourself and no one would ask any questions, especially if you weren’t pretty. If you weren’t pretty, who cared what you did in your life? In high school I invented an out-of-town lover named Marshall Smith: I was in a long-distance relationship. I bought a cheap silver ring and wore it on my thumb, a gift from Marshall. Sometimes I loved him, and sometimes I didn’t, and we’d break up. I’d leave his ring on my dresser, thinking I might play the field, but no one ever asked for my number. I’d catch couples kissing in the hall between classes, and my mind would race. Not my heart, mind you, my mind.

The newbs were lined up in their underwear along the far wall of the Hawley basement. Ennis Quinn, the captain of the wrestling team and the hardest sixth-former in Hawley House, stepped out from the pack of older kids, and Ben Weeks’s shoulder blade met the cool stone behind him. Ben tried to keep his nervous elation from becoming too apparent: he had spent so long waiting through other things to get here. Ennis began to pace in front of the newbs, his eyes forced wide, his paper-bag-colored hair buzzed wrestling short, the tip of his tongue moving over his lips. He seemed built of denser stuff than the other kids.

The older guys in the dorm stood on all sides, now swaying in time together, and because they couldn’t let the junior faculty two floors above them hear, they chanted in whispered unison, “A St. James newb is a quiet newb! A St. James newb is a quiet newb! A St. James newb…”

Ben could feel how scared the rest of the new kids were, and he was overcome with a protective pity for them. He wished he could impart to them what his older brother, Teddy, graduated that past spring, had imparted to him. This would just be a glorified pillow fight, it was happening all across campus in the basement of every dorm, it would weld them all together, they had come down here strangers and would leave each other’s future groomsmen.

But, now, Ennis paced. Ben kept expecting him to start talking or yelling, to open the ordeal, but he just continued to walk back and forth, and the chanting of the other upper-formers all at once grew stale. They had repeated the words so often that the meaning had gone away in their mouths.

Now it seemed that this could be more difficult. Ennis kept pacing, not speaking, as though waiting for someone else’s line to prompt him. Of course they had all been drinking, the upper-formers, but Ben hadn’t come close enough to smell it. The newbs remained standing there, hair sleep-askew. Fear began to turn in Ben, new fear about actually getting hit now, and fear that this would be something other than what he had hoped it would be.

Ben’s roommate, Ahmed, was the only newb who wasn’t staring absently down at the drain in the floor, waiting for this to begin so that it could be over. And Ahmed was the only newb who was wearing a bathrobe: off-white waffle weave with crimson piping. His eyebrows were low and he followed Ennis with his eyes. What had Ennis done to earn this?

Earlier that day Ben had come through the door to the room and met eyes with Ahmed, this brown boy wearing a magnificent plum-colored dress shirt, and Ben had been quietly shocked by what was there in his face, in such contrast to all the other faces he had ever seen at St. James: a pure enthusiasm, a near-complete absence of guile. Now Ahmed closed his fists and released them, close-release, close-release, close-release, close-release. Ben watched Ahmed, and Ahmed watched Ennis. Still Ennis paced, still he said nothing, and it seemed like some mechanism was broken inside him.

Ben had so much to rely on. He took himself back to the living eyes of the crowd behind his court as he faced them, right arm above his head, after winning the last point of the Under-15 Junior National Squash tournament. Ben tried on that triumph again, tried to let it take him. Manley Price, the St. James squash coach, had been waiting for him to arrive on the team. Ben saw his brother Teddy’s face, utterly free from doubt, describing St. James’s classes, late nights in friends’ rooms, afternoons deep in the woods. He saw Hutch’s face across the Camp Tongaheewin canoe shed, telling the other kids how sweet St. James was going to be. Ben saw the class photos of his uncle and father and grandfather, all the Weekses who looked like him, all the way back. Fear was natural, fear was even part of the appeal, but he belonged, he belonged, this was the correct beginning for all of it.

“Newbs!” Ennis finally called out in a whisper. “We are going to see who is the toughest among you!”

Again Ennis lapsed into fixated silence, and all of Ben’s assurance went away.

“We are going to find out who is the bravest! The strongest! The fastest! The best! The best! The besssssssst!”

Ennis curled his fists in front of himself and lowered his head toward his chest now, chanting to himself, “The bessssssst! The bessssssst! The besssssssssst!” The morning of that day seemed very long ago.–

Excerpted from the book THE EXPECTATIONS by Alexander Tilney. Copyright © 2019 by Alexander Tilney. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company. All rights reserved.

Hear Patrick Donnelly (poetry ’03) read from his new book Little-Known Operas, published in February by Four Way Books.