[What follows is Aaron McCollough’s preface to a gathering of three of my earlier books, currently out of print or with a handful of poems preserved in later editions of selected poems. The book – titled A Cruel Nirvana – marks the start of a new publishing venture, SplitLevel Texts, edited by McCollough & Karla Kelsey in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The other announced title in this new series of publications is Alan Gilbert’s The Treatment of Monuments. (J.R.)]
Every foolish drunken poet, boorish vanity without ceasing, (never may I warrant it, I of great noble stock,) has always declaimed fruitless praise in song of the girls of the lands all day long, certain gift, most incompletely, by God the Father: praising the hair, gown of fine love, and every such living girl, and lower down praising merrily the brows above the eyes; praising also, lovely shape, the smoothness of the soft breasts, and the beauty's arms, bright drape, she deserved honour, and the girl's hands.
Dejected, reading the newspaper while riding the tram: he came across an apparent crime in the Police Blotter, a crime that had taken place the night before between ten and eleven. The murderer had not yet been found. The newspaper story, quite justly, abhorred the murder, but righteously showed its utter contempt for the victim’s degenerate way of life, for that individual’s depravity.
He read all about it, the contempt … and grieving in silence, remembered an evening between ten and midnight a year ago