May 9, 2017 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

AFP photo



Sean Kelbley



How To Live. What To Do



In troubled times I turn to the good book,

by which I mean The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens.

Stevens was the VP of the Hartford Accident & Indemnity,

wrote poetry, and died of stomach cancer. Every nacreous tumor

and translucent mass, by which I mean each poem, metastasized

from a pre-existing condition called imagination.


Stevens named reality the necessary angel of this earth,

by which he meant reality as shaped by that same

pre-existing condition: imagination


gave the angel wings and flight, the power

to apprehend within the temporal flux both ideas of things

and things themselves. Imagination


pre-exists in all of us, and we could apprehend

a kinder realpolitik if first we shaped

ourselves into the necessary angels,


by which I mean the angels of compassion,

outrage, empathy; angels on caffeine; angels

calling up their senators on speed-dial; tireless

email angels; angels making poetry. Now’s

the time to add ourselves to rhetoric.


We are to add.










Sean Kelbley

Sean Kelbley

Sean Kelbley lives on a farm in southeastern Ohio, in a house he and his husband built. He works as an elementary school counselor.


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