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About this poet

Jeffrey McDaniel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1967. He received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from George Mason University.

He is the author of five poetry collections, including Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013), The Endarkenment (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008), and Alibi School (Manic D Press, 1995), which the poet Bill Knott called “fresh, provocative, nondoctrinaire.”

According to the poet Khaled Mattawa, McDaniel’s work “chronicles the emotions that jolt us as we stare into the abyss and pulls us away when we’ve seen enough.”

The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, his poems have appeared in two volumes of Best American Poetry. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in the Hudson Valley in New York.


Bibliography

Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013)
The Endarkenment (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008)
The Splinter Factory (Manic D Press, 2002)
Forgiveness Parade (Manic D Press, 1998)
Alibi School (Manic D Press, 1995)

Air Empathy

On the red-eye from Seattle, a two-year-old
in the seat behind me screeches

his miniature guts out. Instead of dreaming
of stuffing a wad of duct tape into his mouth,

I envy him, how he lets his pain spurt
into the open. I wish I could drill

a pipeline into the fields of ache, tap
a howl. How long would I need to sob

before the lady beside me dropped
her fashion rag, dipped a palm

into the puddle of me? How many
whimpers before another passenger

joined in? Soon the stewardess
hunched over the drink cart, the pilot

gushing into the controls, the entire plane:
an arrow of grief quivering through the sky.

Copyright © 2008 by Jeffrey McDaniel. From The Endarkenment (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database

Copyright © 2008 by Jeffrey McDaniel. From The Endarkenment (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database

Jeffrey McDaniel

Jeffrey McDaniel is the author of Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013) and The Endarkenment (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008), among others.

by this poet

poem
I'm sorry I was late.
I was pulled over by a cop
for driving blindfolded
with a raspberry-scented candle
flickering in my mouth.
I'm sorry I was late.
I was on my way
when I felt a plot
thickening in my arm.
I have a fear of heights.
Luckily the Earth
is on the second floor
of the universe.
I am not the egg man
poem

We are underwater off the coast of Belize.
The water is lit up even though it’s dark
as if there are illuminated seashells
scattered on the ocean floor.
We’re not wearing oxygen tanks,
yet staying underwater for long stretches.
We are looking for the body of the boy
we lost. Each

poem

The hoop is not metal, but a pair of outstretched arms,
God’s arms, joined at the fingers. And God is saying

throw it to me. It’s not a ball anymore. It’s an orange prayer
I’m offering with all four chambers. And the other players—

the Pollack of limbs, flashing hands and teeth—