full-length books of poems are
The Alchemy of Opposites and Aspens in the Wind,
both published by Chiron Review Press.
book, Jesse Comes Back (1976), has long
and as far as I know is available only in libraries.
Published by the late Leo Mailman's Russ Haas Press,
it was praised by Christopher Isherwood, who wrote:
"Clifton Snider's book of poems, Jesse Comes Back, impressed me very much.
It is very seldom that I . . . can recommend ["a book by a young poet"]
as highly as this one."
The cover drawing is by Jonathan Ahearn.
book, Bad Smoke Good Body (1980), I have seen
Bad Smoke Good Body is an elegy for my
Evan Allan Snider, who disappeared on 22 October 1976
and whose body has never been found, thanks in part
to the incompetence and homophobia of the Long Beach Police Department.
I don't think I will ever "get over" the loss of my brother. The subject haunts
my dreams even to this day, and it appears now and again in the poems
of my new book. I deliberately left out the comma after Smoke
in the title to show the lack of connection knowledge would bring,
to leave the subject, as it were, unfinished, as it is. Trent Edward,
who did the illustrations for Edwin: A Character in Poems, and who died in 1995,
did the cover drawing for this chapbook published by Applezaba Press.
His Autumn Tulips graces the cover of my novel, Bare Roots.
I have an entire section about Trent in The Alchemy of Opposites.
When I recently revised my novel, Wrestling with Angels: A Tale of Two
a fictional version of the story of my brother, Evan, as well as my own story
up to seven years past his disappearance, I decided to begin each of its
twelve chapters with one of the twelve poems in Bad Smoke. The
juxtaposition of the poems with my fictional prose provides, I hope, tension,
understanding, and consolation--separate artistic progressions that end at the same place.
Even though the impact of reading the poems this way is quite different, I think,
from the impact of reading them at one sitting in the long out-of-print chapbook,
the new context helps provide a perhaps deeper dimension to the poems,
and in any case allows me to get them back in print as a tribute to my brother.
Although the chapbook, Jesse Comes Back, is unavailable by
it is available as the first half of Jesse and His Son (Maelstrom Press, 1982).
Jesse is a
character I made up, part devil, part Christ, part father or
To compensate for him, I made his son a saint, patterned in part after the life of
Ramakrishna, the 19th-century Indian avatar, and his disciple, Vivekananda,
who helped establish Ramakrishna's teachings in the United States.
In writing about this character, I was deeply influenced by Christopher Isherwood's
biography of Ramakrishna and his writings about Vedanta, the society based on
Ramakrishna's teachings. The back cover drawing dates from January 1977
and is by Isherwood's long-time companion, Don Bachardy. The cover
illustration is a photo montage by Craig Stoker.
Edwin was the first of my books to come out in
Unfortunately, the hardcover version does not have the cover drawing
by Trent Edward of the boy coming out of the shell.
It does, however, have the other drawings Trent made
in the late 1970s when we were together.
The title comes from from Chaucer's "The Nun's Priest's Tale."
Read my poem, "D. H. Lawrence in Vence," from this book.
Here is the title poem:
Impervious to Piranhas
He sculpted a statue
By sheer will
he kept the pigeons off.
--Copyright © Clifton Snider, 1989 and 2011
This little poem was a good way, I thought, to begin my little book,
and perhaps it's a good way to end this little survey of my books of
poetry up to The Age of the Mother
and my most recent
poetry books, The Alchemy of
Opposites, Aspens in the Wind, and
my career retrospective, Moonman:
New and Selected Poems (World
Parade Books, 2012).
I've written and published in magazines, journals, newspapers, and
anthologies a number of poems that have not yet appeared in my books.