Publication Date
Publication Status
Out of print
Poetry by individual poets
Trim Size
216 x 140mm

Red Sky Café


Postcards and poem-cards, a fistful of sonnets, a cento stitched out of forgotten poems and a lipogram on cosmology, a Greek myth retold by its regretful hero and a number of unwritten novels synopsized, a dance number from a lost Betty Grable musical, a very small opera and the catalogue description of a painting best not looked at, the text for a funerary rite, a silent cowboy picture verbalized, interpretive extrapolations of an old engraving and of frames from the Nibelungen of Fritz Lang: these might be the wall-hangings for an open-roofed taverna on the outskirts of an eroding cityscape, where the sounds of distant bombardments occasionally filter through the floor show’s synthesized flute music. Red Sky Café is a mix of songs, narrative episodes, previews of coming attractions, and memorabilia of abandoned alleys, loft spaces, and television programs glimpsed in distorted form through the window of a neighbor’s apartment. The intercepts transcribed are not devoid of static and are occasionally interrupted by ambient laughter and crowd noises, not to mention the odd and invariably distressing newscast: with special guest appearances by Medusa, Catullus, Clinton prosecutor Kenneth Starr, and a complement of jungle moon men. Red Sky Café collects poems from the last decade, many of which appeared previously in such places as Hambone, Fence, Conjunctions, Open City, and The Germ.

Praise for this Book

‘O’Brien is one of the smartest, deepest, most rewarding poets we have. It’s his sentences, the amazing (or maybe amazed) lucidity and continuity of the man, being able to draw so much learning and frivolity to the heart’s aid.’ —Robert Kelly

‘As befitting a polymath seemingly able to write anything, Geoffrey O’Brien moves from film-genre poem to Oulipian tour-de-force to skewed Shakespearian sonnet. Humor threads the selvages of Red Sky Café, but the cloth itself is a culture’s black bunting.’ —Susan Wheeler