Tim Suermondt’s masterful poems reveal this poet’s genius for giving voice to the sublime cloaked in wry humor. While Suermondt winks at his readers, he brings to life profoundly spiritual work that is deceptively plainspoken: filtered through the poet’s decency and wisdom, poems that that are forms of worship honoring “The Great Beauty of the World.” Part of this beauty is the radiance of the daily—the joy that one feels while eating a doughnut. “Why do I know drabness has turned into beauty / and is dressing to pay me a visit,” Suermondt asks. In the book’s title poem, he states, “I remember the ugly of the past and I know the worst / of the future is already gearing up to make its visit.” Yet this poet’s work affirms the seemingly contradictory propositions that we live our mortal lives on an earth “lit up / by a strange light from the heavens,” and that the heart and mind can make sense of a “heightened optimism that may doom us.” Yet, as Suermondt observes with his visionary wit: “what a wonderful doom.”
—Yerra Sugarman, author of Aunt Bird
After a title inviting the reader to join in the poet’s delight, Tim Suermondt makes good on the promise, with assorted pleasures of wandering the city, food, honest work, a deadly jump shot, good company, horse racing, and much more. All of it lovelier as a relief from the disastrous histories hinted at and hovering offstage.
In these poems, the oddness of the details that compromise our ordinary lives comes most alive, the tragic and the comic, the wild and mundane often blend into one stanza: “War is worth human praise / tied in with a bucket of fish// … Erase for a moment what we / and the Marines know: that no two-legged soldier will ever get / that bucket of fish. Imagine mermaids / so plentiful, nothing else matters” Out of this blend comes something special: partly myth, partly some new kind of assurance: “I’m standing fast like Martin Luther minus / the theological falderal, and my heart affirms, //stirring with its red sash held oh so high”