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Michael Klein reads from The Early Minutes of Without

Sometimes I like to take a walk. It could be in Central Park, or into the Appalachian woods. The important thing (for me anyway) is to find a comfortable spot and sit down to open a book and read. A recent book that I took on a walk was Michael Klein’s new and selected, The Early Minutes of Without. The first poem in the book let me know what it was all about and sent me in the right direction. It’s called “Blue st. bird,” whose last six lines follow:

When I ask Bert what he loves about birds
he says for the flash of beauty—an answer that stuns
me with lavish accuracy so I had to make sure
under my breath & report it: for the flash of beauty & then
break that down to a single flash & the feeling of flash
until the word rises away from the sentence & finally burns out

I’m going to include three poems from the beginning, the middle, and the end of The Early Minutes of Without to give the reader an idea of the kind of flashes the poet is after. Reading a poem is a lot like taking a walk. For beauty to be found you have to be going somewhere, and yet you still have to take the time to stop and look. Here are the three poems.

After reading how Rodin gave Rilke an idea
which gave me an idea about the earth

What inspired Rilke & his feeling forward
was writing at the door of angels
taking requiem & elegy beyond
the living. But I could be wrong.

He may have thought: I’m not in the world.

Rodin made art that was heavier
than the source—heavier than the gravity
situation. His famous Thinker was going
to be called The Poet which explains the light

energy moving through the bronze: a place no one
thought to consider except the earth poet
who was used to being inside the thing that made
the outer form—which shook when Rilke looked.

Not light’s version

A child from the past: we always knew the world
would crack open like this in our lifetime.

The walls, the fences, the resembling governments looking past
faces into the fire of maps on the long table.
Forest sounds.

A gun. A chemical. A bomb.

Something leaking light. Then not light.
The not light’s version of everything.

Then that—after it touches something.


Sometimes I take the world personally
& sometimes it takes me:

that awful smell
of meat & sunlight

I walked home through
broke from dancing

with the done again men of 4 a.m.
One I loved. I loved him as long

as a tall glass of water. & sometimes
It takes me. There’s an expression for when

a ghost enters a room.
It’s close in here. But that might be wrong.

How were you imprinted with love?

In the video below the mellifluous and uniquely sonorous Michael Klein reads eight poems from The Early Minutes of Without. I recorded him at the KGB Bar in NYC on October the 9th. It is well worth the listen. Enjoy.


The Early Minutes of Without is published by Word Works Books. You can check it out here:




Michael Klein

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