Qualities or Characteristics Of Bill Stobb Poetry

local_library Qualities or Characteristics Of

by Bill Stobb

Published in Issue No. 53 ~ October, 2001

The way you’ll see his smoke before

him, coming around a corner, eddying out

into thin winter air, and the way eddies

automatically associate with backwater and dust

and lives that just backwater and settle.

He smokes, “knows it will kill him,” as they say.

I like to pronounce it accurately, kill him,

to emphasize the specificity of it.  I like to remember

the time we were driving separate vehicles cross-country.

We stopped for lunch and I saw him light up

and turn the wrong way coming out of the station.

I continued south out of Cheyenne through a hailstorm

and then east of Denver into the long night,

every voice on AM saying distance, distance.

But this is supposed to be about living with it.

The way a young girl you work with looks concerned, saying

don’t take it so seriously on a Friday afternoon

then closes the office door and you’re crying

on a Friday afternoon for no reason.

It’s sunny.  The world is indifferent, even blithe

with melting and all the predictable affect of seasonality.

In the car on the way home, you listen

to talk stations, where the squalor, the loss,

the cheap psychology of hosts — it ransacks you.

You make your stops and forget what you stopped for.

You hitch and hesitate like an embodied sob

echoing in the aisles of Safeway.  The way it’s

this and that and then you’re talking about yourself as if

you weren’t your father exactly as if you’d never met

the strange man driving and crying toward Nebraska.

account_box More About

Bill Stobb lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin with his wife and daughter.  There, he is Assistant Professor of English at Viterbo University.  He is the author of a forthcoming chapbook, For Better Night Vision, and the co-editor, along with Gioia Woods, of Etched in Stone: An Anthology of Great Basin Writing (2001). His work is forthcoming in American Literary Review, Colorado Review, and Interim.  His work has earned a nomination for the Pushcart Prize and awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, and The Black Rock Press.  He is a Nevada Arts Council Poetry Fellow for 2000-2001