Paperback Price: $8.95
Paperback ISBN: 1-882295-09-9

Selected Poem

The Cup

What longing you had to be nothing more
Than the light moving
Across the grass like the stateliest ship.
To move into a light you could not glimpse.
How many times in the dark
Too dark to see in, death came to you,
A weightless lover, and unraveled its beautiful oasis
Out of nothing for you.
And each time you must have thought, "It is right
That I go away and not return."
And yet, after the days
Had lost any gleam of welcome,
After sleep had become a battle
To wake to another pain, it took only our voices
To call you back. There we sat, at bedside,
Saying your name.
As though a human voice could dispel the dream
You wanted to become the world,
You stayed. Or as you though you had learned
From all those years
Of sitting at dusk with neighbors,
One or two to a stoop, the close houses
Like sunstruck metal giving back the day's heat,
That there is no place else to go.
Or perhaps the cup of unhappiness you drank from
Was not emptied
Until we could say, "You must go now,
Your suffering is too much for us to bear."

Heavy Grace

“Robert Cording’s Heavy Grace tolls the bells. These are highly likable poems in which the pain of loved ones’ demises is wrestled into free-verse stanzas. Buttressing the elegies that form the heart of the collection are psalms of joy rooted in nature and fatherhood. . . . Heavy Grace is an unflinching and affecting treatment of painful subjects and ultimate themes.

“Robert Cording’s third collection of poems, Heavy Grace, is a luminous addition to the literature of last things, which is always rooted in the here and now. The quotidian is the subject of these quiet lyrics, and what they reveal is the steady gaze of a man determined to confront his mortal fears. This is a poet as familiar with the ways of birds as with what he calls the ‘deep syntax of grief’. Like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the brave spirits hovering behind this book, Cording recognized that the ‘heart cannot be comforted,’ yet his stern poems offer a measure of solace, a kind of grace—a way to live in the here, the now.”
—Christopher Merrill

“Robert Cording’s work offers a subtle but unmistakable critique of Romanticism—or at least of the attenuated romanticism we’ve known in American poetry for 30 plus years. To that extent, it may be part of a broad contemporary reaction, in which unlikely factions (‘new narrative’ poets, postmodern poets, even language poets) vaguely collaborate.

Yet Cording’s part in this general trend, supposing there to be one, involves religious vision. In an epoch whose authors are sentimental about their unbelief and about the primacy of their ungoverned selves, Cording demands a setting aside of the self, an emptying of the egoist vessel. Such an essentially humble pursuit of spiritual ends has not yet won Cording the reputation he merits. But for all that his poetry is perhaps as prophetic.

We may hope so, for what could we need more than a canny guide to being in the ‘heavy’ world—with its beasts and work and birds and spouses and pain and children and joy—while remaining open to all that is graceful within its quotidian bounds. . .and elsewhere?”
—Sydney Lea


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