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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)

The Church of Michael Jordan

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—
are just temptations, obstacles between me and the Lord’s light.

Once during an interview I slipped, I didn’t pray well tonight,
and the reporter looked at me, the same one who’d called me

a baller of destiny, and said you mean play, right? Of course,
I nodded. Don’t misunderstand—I’m no reverend

of the flesh. Priests embarrass me. A real priest
wouldn’t put on that robe, wouldn’t need the public

affirmation. A real priest works in disguise, leads
by example, preaches with his feet. Yes, Jesus walked on water,

but how about a staircase of air? And when the clock
is down to its final ticks, I rise up and over the palms

of a nonbeliever—the whole world watching, thinking
it can’t be done—I let the faith roll off my fingertips, the ball

drunk with backspin, a whole stadium of people holding
the same breath simultaneously, the net flying up like a curtain,

the lord’s truth visible for an instant, converting nonbelievers
by the bushel, who will swear for years they’ve witnessed a miracle.

Copyright © 2015 Jeffrey McDaniel. Originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of Prairie Schooner. Used with permission of Prairie Schooner

Copyright © 2015 Jeffrey McDaniel. Originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of Prairie Schooner. Used with permission of Prairie Schooner

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

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

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