Jeff Friedman

award-winning author of seven poetry collections and two books of translations; his writing has appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry International, Plume, New England Review, The New Republic and numerous other literary magazines; his latest book of poetry, Marksman and Other Poems, has just been accepted by Carnegie Mellon University Press for publication, in fall 2020



Out of the river, mud climbed broken embankments, crooked staircases, gleaming hulls, the corpses of cows, the skulls of cars. Out of the river, mud entered our homes, roasted its dinners in our ovens, filled our glasses with gritty wine. At night, it made our beds, tucking sheets and spreading covers. Mud said its prayers and wept for us. It ticked in our clocks. It wore our shoes and socks, plastered our ankles. Mud took over banks, gas stations, the mayor’s office. Mud baked our bread. It spoke a thousand tongues, translated our deepest needs into simple sentences. It filled out our forms, smudging the signature line. When mud wavered, even for a moment, it kneeled in soggy churches, renewed its faith. With its conscience clear, mud mixed its own cocktail and went out to spread the word, its logic impossible to rebut. Mud drove a convoy of trucks unloading cargoes of itself. Mud dammed the flood. It hired us to work, raking mounds of it into gardens and carrying it in pails. When we looked up, even the sun was mud.


from Pretenders (Carnegie Mellon University Press)