Fort Collins Poet Coins ‘Gentlessness’ To Describe Life In A Complicated World

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Photo: Dan Beachy-Quick
Colorado State University-Fort Collins professor and poet Dan Beachy-Quick.

CSU Fort Collins professor Dan Beachy-Quick sees poetry as an ongoing experiment, one that often uses tradition as it looks at the complicated world and what it means to be human. His most recent book of poetry is titled "(gentlessness)," a word he created to reflect that experiment. The book is a finalist for this year's Colorado Book Awards.

Excerpts: "(gentlessness)"

From "Romanticisms"

Be generous—. But the nettle’s bloom bitters

Its lesson deep into the thumb’s lovely

Incaution, and the rose thrown in the gutter

Still casts out its scent so sweet it’s sickly,

Almost shapely, love’s ghastly prepossession.

I hoped to die before spring came again,

Then the dung beetle made its confession.

Then the pillow kept my silhouette’s stain—.

I rose as if I never had risen—.

Be cautious—. But the letter lays bare

Those marks her own hand pressed through words

Onto the page below this page, where

White on white makes present all past, absurd

Legibility, as grief notes grief,

The colors of the sky, and the sky itself—.

From "Overtakelessness"

This field, this

     leaky boat—

the sea seeps


springs up and

     in, and—

under the grain—


the seeds—we


sift fingers


amber waves--

     we learn

to drown, or

     we sink.

From "Overtakelessness"

I pull the plow behind me.

It cuts a line I cannot see.

     It opens up the sea

     behind me as I work.

How do I know? I hear

the waves crash on rocks

that they are there, brine

in the air the gulls cry out

     hunger, why

     are they so sad?—

the sea?—the sea?—

It is a long line behind me

using itself to point at

itself—it also points away—

     using itself to point away.

Reprinted from "(gentlessness)" by Dan Beachy-Quick with permission of Tupelo Press. Copyright (c) Dan Beachy-Quick, 2015