Originally published in Willow Springs 85
From the author
Notes on “That the Deer Tick Is the Pilot Light of the Universe” and “4 AM”
I think of “4 A.M.” as I do much of my work—it’s a kind of lovechild between Yannis Ritsos, Tomas Tranströmer, and Frank Stanford. In that power trio I continue to find a model for how to write about the intersection of solitude, inwardness, and a kind of metaphysical landscape. Description and image-making are what electrify poetry for me, especially when those elements become proxies for the inner life of the writer, no matter how opaque or obvious such a life may be. “That the Deer Tick Is the Pilot Light of the Universe” is dedicated to my friend, the unofficial arts mayor of Marfa, TX, Tim Johnson. This isn’t a private poem, but its quick associations and leaping motions are meant to reflect what I admire in Tim’s imagination and artmaking. All my poems carry the DNA of other artists; those who inspire me the most are friends who defiantly live and breathe art and human subjectivity in a world that increasingly values Internet fame and group-think.
Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.
Records? Come over some time and we’ll slide the KEFs out from the wall, warm up the tubes, and listen to all the new pressings from the Neil Young Archives.
About Michael McGriff
Michael McGriff is the author of several books, most recently the poetry collections Early Hour (Copper Canyon Press, 2017) and Black Postcards (Willow Springs Books, 2017). A new edition of his co-authored story collection (with J.M. Tyree), Our Secret Life in the Movies, has just been released from Deep Vellum. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Poetry London, The Believer, American Poetry Review, and on PBS NewsHour. He teaches creative writing at the University of Idaho, and his work can be explored online here [https://www.npr.org/2014/11/
Author photo credit: Marcus Jackson