Happy Poems and Other Lies

By Jeddie Sophronius

Subjects: Poetry
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9781949933260, 72 pages, June 2024

Table of contents


Song of the Prophet
Gospel of the Unsettled Prophet
A Prophet without Words
Song of the Sparrow
Conversation with a Bleeding God in My Arms
Conversation with the Devil
Matthew 18:9
Black Hole
When I Ask the Bible
Meditation: A Memory
Father, Forgive Me


City of Lost
Conversation with Snow
When I Came Home
Conversation with the Empty Garden
Rainy Season
Family History
Father Abecedarian
My Father Tries to Sing
Nightly Prayer
Before Departure
City of Found


Edge of Heaven
The Sparrow Dance
One Room
Arrival in Charlottesville
The Silent Longing
Brown Body
On Guilt
Conversation with Myself at 4 A.M.
Mother's Recipe for Tongseng
Origin of Childhood


Poems that chronicle an exiled speaker's battle with family-imposed religious dogma, their quest for acceptance, and their journey towards self-discovery through biblical language, surrealism, and absurdism.


Happy Poems and Other Lies details the experiences of an exiled speaker who struggles to conform to the rigid religious beliefs imposed by their family. The speaker's various identities revolve around being a son, a wanderer, and a self-proclaimed prophet. Combining elements of biblical language, surrealism, and absurdism, these poems explore the speaker's longing for acceptance and their internal conflicts as they navigate their own spirituality. Each of the collection's three sections portrays the evolution of the speaker's identity. The initial section delves into the speaker's origins, highlighting their struggle to reconcile personal beliefs with familial expectations and traditions. The second section captures the speaker's return home after an extended absence, where they confront their past and navigate complex family dynamics. In the final section, the speaker embarks on a transformative journey away from home, distancing themselves from their past and religious constraints. This separation leads to a profound revelation as they embrace their true self, finding solace in their own spirituality and embracing a liberating transformation.

Jeddie Sophronius is a Chinese-Indonesian writer born in Jakarta, Indonesia. He is the author of Interrogation Records (2024), Love & Sambal (2024), and the chapbook Blood·Letting (2023). He holds a BA from Western Michigan University and an MFA from the University of Virginia. The recipient of the 2022 Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize, their poetry has appeared in The Cincinnati Review, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. They divide their time between the United States and Indonesia. Read more of their work at nakedcentaur.com.


"Jeddie Sophronius's poems tend to the fragility of loss and of the lost. The ordinary becomes sacred and there is a vigilance to what cannot be held, as we are taught the ways that 'Some things are more beautiful / when they are missing.' These poems question the nature and shapes of witnessing, revealing a sense of restraint, yet clarity, as the speaker asks, 'When can I call out your name / without having to worship you?' Throughout Happy Poems and Other Lies, survival is shown in its intricacy, with the speaker seeking both belief and a sense of understanding. In absence we find healing within these poems and a holiness that is present without falter. — Sara Lupita Olivares, author of Migratory Sound

"The first time I read Happy Poems and Other Lies, I caught my breath, and immediately picked it up to read again. The next morning, I read it again. And the next week. I've lost count of how many times I've read this wonderful collection, as each time is a new experience, with new revelations emerging from the poems inside. Its greatest strength, perhaps, is the energy it forges from contradiction: it is challenging yet inviting, it is intensely personal yet compassionately universal, it is often dreamlike but rooted firmly in the concrete world, with all its flaws and hope. This is a book you will return to, over and over again, grateful for each visit." — Robert Krut