Barman

Barman James Jay smallBarman
by James Jay
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The Barman is the keeper of lost objects: a forgotten hoodie, a wallet full of cash, the strophes sung out in pain and despair, the beautiful moments that a rich life allows you to have and forget. Those lost objects that aren’t returned to their owners or donated to Goodwill find themselves here in these poems. A fiddler marvels over the birth of his child. A slaughterhouse fly sips condensation off a pint glass. John Henry’s father mourns the loss of his son. Saturn stops by for a visit. A love poem emerges on the back of a to-do list. In his third poetry collection, James Jay stands behind his bar, watches, listens, and gives these objects, moments, and feelings resonance.

“You might be envious of the people James Jay has the chance to meet—a barman’s constant stream of lives leaning against his copper coated counter. But what you should be envious of are his words—the way pulls them from the people and the bottles and the dim lamps their inner stories. James Jay’s words make shape of starlight. They reveal air as speech. They add texture to this thick life. These poems show people at their most intimate moments—vulnerable, open, and full of human emotion—just like James Jay and just like his words. Take this book with you where you go because these poems are human. With them, you will never be lonely.”

Nicole Walker, Sustainability: A Love Story

“In the tradition of Philip Levine and Jim Daniels, these are poems that sweat and get their hands dirty—by someone unafraid, in the words of Philip Larkin, to ‘let the toad work squat on my life.’ Beneath that toad is a poet whose mental toughness is combined with a kind and gentle heart. Time and again, Jay uncovers the uncommon in the commonplace, sometimes from his experience as proprietor of one of Flagstaff’s premier bars. Work, both physical and spiritual, is the abiding element in this impressive collection, in which even love poems must be written ‘On the back of tomorrow and its scrawled to-do list’—and are no less moving for that.”

William Trowbridge, author of Vanishing Point

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