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Sixty-Cent Coffee and a Quarter to Dance

A Poem

80 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / None


  Paperback / 9780807129968 / April 2005

Following her critically acclaimed first book of poetry, Carolina Ghost Woods, Judy Jordan here returns to a time in her life when she was homeless and working as a pizza deliverer at a Greek immigrant–owned restaurant. She absorbs the life experiences and unmet dreams of her coworkers, the parking lot prostitutes, and the other homeless with whom she shares coffee refills and the warmth of the bus station terminal. Their voices, along with Jordan's, come together in a haunting chorus that bears witness to the misery of poverty in the richest country in the world.

Childhood abuse, drug use, violence, disease, and war enter into many of the stories that form this collective tale. Sometimes broken and eerie, sometimes lyrical and beautiful, and other times quirkily humorous, the poems gain an added edginess by the use of fixed forms and the re-imagining of the sonnet in the mouths of the twentieth century's wounded and alienated. Ultimately, Jordan explores the place of beauty, verse, and narrative in helping to move us into a future in which everyone's story is told.

Tell me Chris are there nights long after the sun's
yolk has broken across the mountains' blue ridge
when time becomes so bold it crawls its way
from hibernation and shimmies naked
and shivering to the trees' highest branches,
when the river weeps so loud and long
the fish choke on their own old sorrows,
when the wild onions close their eyes one by one
and the Queen Anne's Lace fold up
their blood-spotted handkerchiefs
and lie down in ditch weed and sorrel the final time,
nights when the steel band of your ribs tightens
and your hands go cold, nights when you know
you will never see Greece again. Never. 

Judy Jordan 's first book of poetry, Carolina Ghost Woods, won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Academy of American Poets Walt Whitman Award, the Thomas Wolfe Literary Award, the Oscar Arnold Young Book Prize of the Poetry Council of North Carolina, and the Utah Book of the Year Award for Poetry. She teaches at Southern Illinois University, in Carbondale.

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