Ember Days

By Mary Gilliland

Subjects: Poetry
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9781949933192, 92 pages, April 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-04-15

Table of contents

Offering the Body: The Tibetan Practice of Chöd

WEDNESDAY's jammed boulevards


For When Nothing Is Remembered

This Is Buff, Shuffling

Outside The Tunnel Snow Is Melting

Excuse Me Hello Good Morning Good Night

Up With People

Kitchen Theater

As Though Finny Folk Would Flip

Slipping An Opinion Out Of Them Is Easy

All Those Creases

From The Window Of The Public Library

The Old Man Brought Home

National Insecurity

If God Were To Die

Feeding In Flight To Keep Hovering

Stealing Across The Silver

The Boss's Operation

There Is No Known Remedy For Scale

Is a transcendently beautiful place not to be ours?

Blossoms Burst Every-which Color

FRIDAY's cash worthless

Perhaps I Left The Car At Big Lots

Pat Euphoria

I Am The Blond You Wanted

Dry Dock

Compared To What Was Is Is Beautiful

1961 Springfield Ave

To The Darkhouse

The Great Bear in Winter

Tesla On A Leash

Irish Eye

Miracle Miles

Base of Parnassus


Earthly Mishaps

SATURDAY's prodigal feet


Continent Not Country

Desert Storm


Not Yet Eager To Step Back From Public Life

Floats To The Sky

Turning In To The Windswept Garden


For The Record


Miracles When They Are Needed

The Entire Table Lifted Spoons

Crows Without A Bardo

Lincoln In Another Bardo



A Brush With Contumacy

Ember Days


A— uses more ordnance in a single campaign than
B— used in epochs of imperial rule

Poems that step up to our world's disasters, level with its possibilities, and interrogate faith, justice, militarism, madness, and the joy of intimate relationships.


The riveting poems of Ember Days begin with ritual and end with prayer as they tunnel through Wednesday's jammed boulevards, Friday's cash worthless, Saturday's prodigal feet. Plant disease incurable as colonialism inhabits nature's solace; funds for libraries disappear, abandoned houses compel secrets. Woolf's pen runs dry, Tesla holes up, Lincoln emerges in yet another bardo. Soldiers in Baghdad, models transformed to artists, descendants of forced immigrants, survivors of hurricanes, witnesses for peace—these and other intercessory voices step up to our world's disasters, level with its possibilities, interrogate faith, justice, militarism, madness, and the perception and affection of intimate relationships.

Mary Gilliland is the author of The Devil's Fools, winner of the Codhill Press Pauline Uchmanowicz Poetry Award, and The Ruined Walled Castle Garden. She lives in Ithaca, New York.


"Gilliland waltzes smoothly between the cheeky and conversational and the lyrical … Across tightly-built lyrics, the poet establishes a levelheaded conversational ease that somehow makes room for celebration of the natural world, the inner world, and a sense of humor. Which is to say that Gilliland is full of surprises; the voice of these poems—whether set perched on a bar stool or while mowing down a cemetery—endures." — Literary Hub

"Mary Gilliland brings to her work the rich flavors of the natural world, yet her destination is clearly news of the inner self, its perceptions, its relationships with others. She is not afraid of delight, neither does she shirk the hard tasks of anger, pain, and deep caring." — Mary Oliver

"Gilliland has continued to develop as a poet of high intelligence, considerable originality, and quiet intensity … whose work is consistently fresh and exploratory, in form as well as in substance." — Stanley Kunitz

"At once eco-sensual and erudite, Gilliland writes a nuanced poetry that richly investigates humanity's contradictory capacities to destroy and to love. From first to last, I am spellbound by the largesse of vision and the beauty." — Cynthia Hogue

"Like the apothecarist Keats, Mary Gilliland's poetry wells up from the healing force of unheard melodies. Her tensile lyric and fluent narrative grasp the sweet otherness in life, which is 'Eve's radical helplessness' to endure and bear intimate witness to both change and permanence … a radiant testimony—and a triumph—of an unerring ear I deeply cherish. Mythical and grounded, her sensuously rich language enacts a poetry in which self-concentration brims beyond the far reach of desire, passion, and the self." — Ishion Hutchinson

"By turns mystical and realist, Mary Gilliland's intensely musical poems consider global apocalypse—'our course set for the destitute sunset'—but also celebrate the generative power of creativity, honoring the passion of cobbler, novelist, saint, inventor, photographer. With preternatural empathy, she enters fascinating sensibilities—Virginia Woolf, Nikola Tesla—and sings 'the troubled music' of history, a frontier that extends from fabled to factual, from the Hesperides to the moon, from resorts to war zones. Her vision is profound, enduring." — Alice Fulton