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This is the book I had to write so that I could move on to higher literary endeavors.   David Treadway Manning

I came to Malaprop’s Books and Café expecting to be cracked up.  Which is to say, I came to listen to Dave read from his latest book, Yodeling Fungus.  After the introductory statement above, I knew I would not be disappointed.

I’ve been listening to David Manning read his poetry all across NC for the past ten years, nature poetry, love poetry, spiritual visions, politics, and I am always captivated by his ability to imagine fresh images.  He speaks truth from the heart.  And then . . . every once in a while he’ll startle me with a poem that is so sly, acerbic and right on downright damn funny I’ll just about strangle.  He confesses that these are the result of a genetic misfire from his muse, Guzman:

“Guzman de Pietro is a benevolent demon inhabiting the Manning bloodline for generations as a genetic hitchhiker, imparted into the genome to each its hosts humility and the restorative virtues of Merlot and bathtub naval strategy.  A form of male duende, Guzman erupts from time to time in newspapers and poems in outrageous and occasionally embarrassing public behavior.”

.     .     .     .     .

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Starry Campion

Terminal Issues

Far from faculty teas, and leather elbow-patches,
out in the blue-collar, bare-knuckle world,
out in the cliché-ridden, six-pack world,

the little magazines flash in and out like
virtual particles in the plenteous void.  Some
catch and flicker into light to illumine

the pages of Poet’s Market for a year
or two.  Names like Manna, Pegasus go up
like bottle-rockets then fall for next week’s

recycle.  Somehow Lyn Lifshin strides
their galaxies as if on stepping stones
before they vanish, the tiny journals,

home-grown in someone’s sewing room.
Coastal Plains, Wellspring, Potato Eyes –
I’ve had a poem in the final issue

of each one.  I have sent my coup-de-grace
like poisoned arrows into their vitals.
Amelia took my killer limerick then died

(with editor Fred) before the fatal fetal poem
could be born.  And Knuckle Merchant greeted
my aggression open-armed then shuddered,

limp into rain-soaked tabloid rags.  Now,
I send out poems, with a warning
like a black box label on a drug.

Enclosed are five new poems.
Thanks for you consideration.
The side effect is death.

.     .     .     .

What I should Have Said to the Young Poet Who Asked, “What Is the Typical Age of Your Reading Group Members?”

It’s don’t ask, don’t tell
when we wheel in our IVs
& orderlies.  Just come with some poems.
At noon we bring our lunches,

community oxygen & an extra tank
or two.  You won’t feel out of place
after we lay a few lines of Thanatopsis
on you with our cool blue hands.

Come visit – you’ll fit right in –
like six by three.  We keep out too much
sun, so you can ease back on one
of our satiny pillows & enjoy.

They keep the black van running
outside & Brown-Wynne on speed-dial.
Yesterday a youngster with progeria
came & caught up real fast.  Don’t worry,

before you know it you’ll be
one of us.  Your hands will clammy up
real fine – knobbly veins and all – and
those cheeks of baby fat will croc-o-dile.

.     .     .     .     .

Dave, Worthy Evans and I read as the “Poetrio” at Malaprop’s Books and Café on July 3, 2011.

Yodeling Fungus, Old Mountain Press

Other books by David Manning:
The Flower Sermon
The Ice Carver

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