Monday, May 10

The Poet as Clothes Salesman

Spencer Reece is a Brooks Brothers salesperson whose book of poetry will soon be published. He's been joining contests and trying out pieces for publication for like a decade before this break came. Prior to that, he considered Divinity school, but went home to the family farm to assist his doctor father in editing medical newsletters. He got turned away by the family because of his homosexuality, and then suffered depression and a stint at the hospital. He was down and out until he befriended a nurse by quoting Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" to her: "The art of losing isn't hard to master;/so many things seem filled with the intent/to be lost that their loss is no disaster."

He stayed with the nurse and her husband until he got the sales job at Brooks Brothers and then moved on to a new life in Florida, and then the book option. He just went home one night and found Louise Gluck's message in his answering machine.

Here's an excerpt from "The Clerk's Tale," which Gluck describes as "half cocktail party, half passion play."

A few late customers gawk in at us.

We say nothing. Our silence will not be breached.

The lights go off, one by one — the dressing room lights, the mirror lights.

Then it is very late. How late? Eleven?

We move to the gate. It goes up.

The gate's grating checkers our cheeks.

This is the Mall of America.

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