The Reception, poems by Michael O’Leary

Smyth-sewn paperback · 64pp · $18 · ISBN 9780988719279


The long strides of Michael O’Leary’s poems in The Reception lead the reader into a world of intensely realized sensation and minutely observed imagery. Here the forces of nature are always edging into the urban frame, and that urbanity grows out of a deep historical consciousness. “American Bridge Company” reaches from Chicago to Troy. The title poem is an epic of Midwestern rituals and pan-human manners. Narrative and lyric poems draw one in, word by word and line by line. Rooted in a desirous present, they reach forward into the future, and one wants to reach with them. As O’Leary puts it: “Noon is now and the afternoon / a temptation.” To that temptation, I say yield. — Lawrence Norfolk

In my dream of this book, the dead are carried high up overhead. They upbraid the ground, its evacuations, and don’t come to rest. Michael O’Leary, with The Reception, gives us the watchman of the terrible hour—the upbound city, reconnaissance, with its fragile, unremitted geometries—and we, his readers, are made tenuous, and beholden, and in nite, by the verse’s elegant tendering of “the supple granulation of a very ancient wound.” This is a nest elegy, to the day, and so to history, its suspirations, and the ossatures that, imperfectly, receive it. — Nathanaël

Michael O'Leary (© 2016)