Southeast Missouri State University Press

Southeast Missouri State University

Telling My Father

James Crews

Cowles Poetry Book Prize Winner
Publication: October 1, 2017
Pages: 68

In the Yard After a Storm

I placed the acorn cap in my palm
like the smallest alms bowl, held it up
to catch the last drops of rain falling
cold from the tips of shivering leaves.
But as I turned it over, let the water
trickle out, it became the polished knob
to a trapdoor that appears only for those
who wait long enough to see its shadow
hung on mist and air. I pulled, lifted,
then looked down as if into that place
carved out in my mind like a cellar filled
with the murky jars of my worst fears,
their labels faded but the message clear:
To know myself, I must taste each one.


James Crews’ work has appeared in Ploughshares, Raleigh Review, Crab Orchard Review and The New Republic, among other journals, and he is a regular contributor to The (London) Times Literary Supplement. His first collection of poetry, The Book of What Stays, won the 2010 Prairie Schooner Book Prize and received a Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing-Poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in Writing and Literature from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he was an Othmer Fellow and worked for Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry newspaper column. He lives on an organic farm with his partner in Vermont.

Paperback, $15.00
ISBN: 978-0-9979262-5-5

Available for pre-order