A former bouncer, caretaker, and migrant picker of Swiss grapes, McCreesh lives, paints, writes, and works for the man in the gypsum and caliche badlands of the American Southwest — only three of which he likes. He’s been a Best-of-the-Web nominee, and his poetry and non-fiction have both been nominated for Pushcarts. You can find him here – http://www.hoshomccreesh.com
He has two bodies of work forthcoming And Turns Still The Sun at Dusk Blood-Red…, poems and paintings written by McCreesh and Christopher Cunningham (Bottle of Smoke Press) and A Deep and Gorgeous Thirst (Artistically Declined Press).
Sparrows & Tulips, Jesus & Hitler, & the Courage, The Courage, The Courage…
to hear them
I’ve done just that—
but the only reason
the sparrows & the tulips
have it better than us
is because they lack the
about what they’ll
about what they’ll
There’s no escape from suffering.
There’s no escape from glorious & inevitable death.
Jesus had his doubts.
Yet only one of them
proud & head-held high
to the slaughter.
need is to
thank the gods
we insist on
blaming, & the
re-released old book Something Random & Tragic To Set The Guts Aflame…
Can you talk about which came first the title or the poem?
More so than not, the body of the poem usually comes first…and in this case it definitely did. I usually work with the feeling of a piece first, free-associating lines and stanzas…then go back and thresh out any theme that has developed. And then I find what feels like the lines or stanza that ties it all together for me. In this case, instead of the title being lines pulled verbatim, it’s more of a laundry list of the threads that stood out for me. I’ve certainly aped that from Bukowski. There are poems titled like this all throughout his Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame — which, for me, is the 2nd best book of poetry I’ve ever read.
What, in your art either writing or painting, do you obsess over?
I want to be very workman-like in how I approach whatever I’m doing — painting, or writing, or just living. I never want stop pushing and trying. I want to work at my own pace, work fearlessly, and avoid compromises where possible, avoid unnecessary complexity when possible. I value the clean and the direct, and I value an artist’s style — when they really find their own way of doing things. It makes their work instantly recognizable. To do that, you have to be as much a problem solver as you are an artist. So put all of that together, and in the end, what I obsess over is if I have done all I can to stay true to the approach, and if the end result stands any chance to connect with people. Maybe there’s no way to know. With an introspective thing like poetry, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own shit — and forget to leave room for everyone else. That, to me, is the hallmark of poor writing — the fact that readers don’t get to participate. Anyhow, that’s what I constantly ask of my work and myself.
Can you discuss why you ended the poem this way and why this particular poem is the last piece in your collection?
I make it a point to always finish a book on a word, and a feeling that I’m inspired by. All my books end on good words. But the poems are as much a battle-cry for myself as they are for anyone else — which is why I sometimes needle my own peccadilloes in them. This poem is a perfect example of that. I decry the uselessness of moaning, then call myself out for doing it! I think its an easy thing: staring at the unfeeling heavens, angry at the gods that have gone silent on us in our time of need. It’s a much harder thing to accept the beautiful human struggle, accept our mortality, accept the smirking doom…and then somehow move beyond it, grateful for the opportunity. That is, to me, an unbelievably heroic message — that yes, the world is cold; yes, life is hard…now what are you gonna do about it? Because, in the end, we are free. Free to choose, free to find our own meaning, free to build our own mythology.