ABOUT THE BOOK:
A first collection of poetry from Lois P. Jones, Night Ladder is
the winner of the 2017 Best Book Award.
Lois P. Jones's Night Ladder chronicles how the world moves spiritually
and sensually through us, while also recognizing how we move through the
world, watching "clouds / turn from oblivion into spectacle, / burning
the world as they go." There is a timelessness to these poems, a conver-
sation with the present as well as with Lorca, Rilke, Picasso, and more—
as if the voice of this book has slipped the temporal bounds that tether
most voices to a date in history, a moment in time. Jones asks: "…what
can we carry but a chance // to remember how a man is a lantern / lowered
into the earth." Astonishing. Beautiful. The poems in Night Ladder guide
us on an exploration of that eternal question with a deft and mature hand.
You'll likely read these poems in quiet solitude, and then, I hope, you'll
want to share them aloud with someone you love.
—Brian Turner, author of My Life as a Foreign Country
Against all that's occurring around us, the very existence of these poems
seems a miracle— their deep shimmering beauty, their sense of mystery, as
full of light as shadow, and a kind of inviolate purity rare in today's
poetry, rare anywhere. Lois P. Jones is a remarkable imagist and an uncommon
talent. And it occurs to me that these poems hold just what readers so often
turn to poetry for, to be carried deeper into themselves and also into the
sensory, and sensual, outer world, and toward that indestructible goodness
that prevails through time and against every opposition.
—Suzanne Lummis, author of Open 24 Hours
In "Splendor" Lois P. Jones describes… What the photographercaptured/
when she slipped the lens / inside the cello to reveal / the prayer
that burns inside/ every instrument / and you stood in its teak room /
awash in the cleft of light… This astounding image encapsulates how
poem after poem takes the reader of Night Ladder to the brink of the
mystical and mundane, a visioning from the inside through a synesthetic
response to paintings, music, places, history, love and desire. In refus-
ing to deny the presence of the sacred in a life, maybe especially a
secular life, she shows us how transformation waits at the edges of the
simplest experiences. All of this and a pitch perfect ear make this book
a necessary, inspiring, and beautiful guide to mindfulness. I would follow
Lois P. Jones wherever her poems lead.
—Mary Kay Rummel, author of The Lifeline Trembles and Cypher Garden
Here is a poet who dares everything—she sings, she philosophizes, she
converses with the dead —to bring us closer, impossibly, to what we have
lost. "I will be the spirit of your/departed," she writes. And so she is,
in every haunted line, but she is also a guide to our arriving —in this
world, where the living is.
—Joseph Fasano, author of Vincent
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lois P. Jones is a recipient of the 2016 Bristol Poetry Prize,
2012 Tiferet Poetry Prize and the 2012 Liakoura Prize and was
shortlisted for the 2016 Bridport Prize in poetry. Her poetry
has been published in anthologies including The Poet's Quest
for God(Eyewear Publishing), Wide Awake: Poetry of Los Angeles
and Beyond(The Pacific Coast Poetry Series), 30 Days (Tupelo
Press) and Good-Bye Mexico (Texas Review Press). She has work
published or forthcoming in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Narrative,
American Poetry Journal, Tupelo Quarterly, The Warwick Review,
Cider Press Review and others. She is Poetry Editor of Kyoto
Journal, host of KPFK’s Poets Café (Pacifica Radio) and co-hosts
Moonday Poetry. Lois's poems have won honors under judges Fiona
Sampson, Kwame Dawes, Ruth Ellen Kocher and others.
FROM THE BOOK:
Reading “Shadowlands” to a Friend at the Sepulveda Dam
Did my eyes avoid yours, Brother?
Mustard grass to our hips — sallow as Gauguin's
Yellow Christ, it blows its seed, mixing
with the must of mule fat and sage. When the wind
is this strong, I remember the year branches twisted
from their trunks onto my path toward Terezin.
They were everywhere, needling the numbered
graves. Anonymity makes war possible, otherwise
you couldn’t look your brother in the eye—
become a slavering wolf, the SS who drove
the Jews toward the wild smell
in the woods and the old house
running down to the water. And you know
what’s coming. Listening as if you are a part
of the descent — the river and its copper—
colored trail — the blood wall where nothing
is wet only driven in like nails. It tastes of rust
in our mouths, of shadowlands and a boot
in the snow and even in this dry heat
your cheeks are damp. You know what a home
looks like because you came from a land
of sheepherders and milk cows, where ovens
were meant to keep a back warm in winter
and wagons bore the day's wheat.
What can we carry but a chance
to remember how a man is a lantern
lowered into the earth.