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Simon Pettet reads from As a Bee

Simon Pettet came over to my place on the hottest day last week, one of those NY muggy days in the 90s, sweat in your eyes and crevices, a mopping of the brow and swallowing drinks of cold water and iced coffee. It was great to see him. He is bi-city now, sometimes here in New York, and sometimes in Toronto.

We started a little later in the day than I usually do and on this day in particular the sound of sirens came and went and came again to accompany Simon reading his poems, which you will see and hear, prevail as well-honed words are meant to.

He brought along two books, Hearth and As a Bee. As a Bee is a slim handsome volume of thirty poems. I like the title. It could be the end of a simile leaving the reader to fill in the beginning blank. Or as as a conjunction which is more in keeping perhaps with what the poet has in mind.

Among the poems Simon reads are the first and last in the book, and I’ve typed them out here for folks not only to listen to but also to have a look:


Glimpse of heron
on the riverbank
in the fine mist
of late afternoon,
camouflaged by reeds
(so green, so nonchalant)
so now you see me, now you don’t
and now I appear again!
and splash
and spears
and dips
his head
towards the silver light.


We are
On our way,
Anyone out in the hallway now
Can come in now,
Dawdlers and stragglers,
No time for dawdlers and stragglers.
The lights
Are about to go on
(or off?)
The sound
Is turned down
(or up?)
There is great anticipation in the air

We would like you all
To remain in your seats
In the interim
(For the duration
Of the proceedings)
Have faith

The show
Is about to spiral

In As A Bee the poems are mostly a page or so in length, or shorter like this one:

He believed in Zen friendship and
architectural notation
He believed, sotto voce, Franco
in bodhisattva vows

the maximum compassion
the minimum number of syllables

The maximum compassion, the minimum number of syllables is what As a Bee is about. To speak of rejuvenating love with the fewest words possible gets the job done.

As a Bee is published by Talisman House. Check them out here:


As a Bee is also distributed by Small Press Distribution, a non-profit distributor worth its weight in gold. Check them out here:



Simon and me at Michael Lally’s 75th birthday party, May 28, 2017

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