Paperback Price: $14.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1882295678

Selected Poem

Sex and Candy

Candy: it’s the nookie of children. For when you are a child,
candy is what you think about during
every waking moment. It’s something you can’t get from yourself
and for which, therefore, you depend on the kindness of others.
It’s what you hide from other children when you do get some,

what you devour greedily when you have it and bitterly lament
the absence of when you don’t, what’s bad for you if you have
too much of it, and so on. Whereas, when you are grown, while candy
retains some allure, now it is sex that you think about
all the time, what you hide from other adults when you get some, and so on.

So would a divinity student say either candy or sex is a belief system?
Maybe they’re practices, like Buddhism or Quakerism,
rather than belief systems like Roman Catholicism or football.
Certainly sex was a practice to this fellow I used to know
in college who had all these elaborate schemes for getting women

and who actually succeeded at them, not because the schemes
were any good—for the most part, they were pretty dumb,
as a matter of fact, as when he got excited when he saw that one
of the objects of his desire wore a wedding ring
“because that means they do it” or when one smoked,

a sure sign of a moral flexibility—but because the schemes
were a bridge between his desires and their fulfillment,
a way to get from point A to point B, as it were,
just as he must have had similarly-successful schemes
for wheedling candy out of his parents when he was young.

Of course, sex is a slightly more complex field of study,
as I realized when I asked a nonagenarian German gentleman
of my acquaintance what single thing he’d like to have now
from his student days, when he spent his mornings reading Goethe
and Schiller and his afternoons dueling with sabers

and his nights emptying stein after stein of lager, and the old gentleman,
who’d been retired for more years than he’d worked
and who still had the scars from saber cuts on his cheeks, smiled
and pointed toward his belt and leaned close and whispered,
“Ein Steifer!” and you don’t have to have a Ph. D. in German

to know that’s one of those words that must mean pretty much
what it sounds like! But while he was talking about sex,
I also think he was being not only funny but also nostalgic
for his dead wife, just as we are all sentimental about those
whom we love, yet when we look around, where are they?

Perhaps they are eating candy in heaven, just shoveling it in.
Now let’s say they’re waiting for us
because they want to have sex with us—heavenly sex!—
though in the meantime, they get to have all the candy they want.
But when we get there, they won’t want either one, and neither will we,

and instead, we’ll all want the thing that’s better than either sex
or candy, the thing that we got just a glimmer of once,
like a firefly in a distant meadow that we saw one night
as we were stuffing our faces or pulling somebody’s pants down,
and it’s got a name, that thing, we just don’t know what it is.

The Temple Gate Called Beautiful

“. . . it’s hard to realize that [The Temple Gate Called Beautiful] isn’t the comic monologue of a Renaissance-trained professor drenched in Monty Python reruns. But there is indeed a strong sense of form—long lines in carefully shaped stanzas—and the underlying rhythms evoke marvelous late-night conversations. Sure, one-sided ones, but with someone whose mind is so stuffed that every quip becomes a set of metaphors feeding into an Escher staircase that’s headed back to the opening of the poem in spite of racing away from it.”
—Beth Kanell, Kingdom Books

“David Kirby is the rare poet who juxtaposes humor and satire with a serious academic and classical knowledge without pandering exclusively to one or the other. It is a balancing act that is quite successful because it appears effortless . . . These mini-epic poems demonstrate a mastery of the turn of phrase, leading us onward toward Kirby’s inevitably laugh-filled punch lines, little bits of heaven left behind for us to contemplate in the here and now.”

“. . .a rarified world, one rendered through the eyes of a keen intelligence.”
Library Journal

“In The Temple Gate Called Beautiful, David Kirby tackles the afterlife, pinning it down and tickling it until he gets answers. Each poem is a miraculous, hilarious, profound labyrinth. Surrender to these Kirby-esque journeys and when you pop out into the white space beyond each of his poems’ triumphant last lines, you will see for yourself a glimpse of heaven.”
—Denise Duhamel

“David Kirby is a master conversationalist, a witty and deep feeling thinker, part Mel Brooks, part Virgil, dazzling in his range of tone and reference, in his surprising, often zany, yet always satisfying turns from observation to rumination, from elegy to comedy. The Temple Gate Called Beautiful is one of the most moving and entertaining books I’ve ever read.”
—Alan Shapiro

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