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David Groff reads from Live in Suspense

A few months ago, I heard David Groff read from Live in Suspense, his most recent book, at the Jefferson Market Library. The poems were very visual, and philosophical, a bit like parables, with existence itself as the theme; and they were easy to follow—I don’t mean this in a bad way—what I mean is that I didn’t zone out as I listened because the poems kept my interest.

“Waiting for the next mortal thing to happen,” the poet explains, “is what these poems are about. There is something holding them together, an idea of suspense. We think about what is going to happen next even as we live in the present.”

In the video below, David Groff reads from Live in Suspense. And I think you will find a bit of suspense, a sitting on the edge of your seat as you listen. Enjoy.

Four poems from Live in Suspense follow: “Desert Stink Beetle,” “Dead Deer,” “Birthday Wish,” and “After a Time I Touch My Husband.”

Desert Stink Beetle

You who gave your wings for more water,
evolving to adhere them to your thorax
until you became a shiny black capsule,
a desert death-reaper, a hearse of a bug,

nosing the dirt as if you hunt your glasses,
your butt in the sky like a hi-rider,
comically somber, somberly comic,
your exhaust your line of defense,
the twenty-inch ray of spray
you emit to get the last word,
a stink you survive that lets you survive,

………………………—my darkling,

my thick drop of unmooned night,

let me persist as your species,
submit my wings to my torso,
commit myself to ground,
make my diet detritus and shit,

evolve to be unlovely,
a black ruby of gloom,
a fecal American scarab,

behind my earth-ridden face
my breath all bad,
my ass in the air my moon,
ready to let it out,
ready to take it in.


Dead Deer

Bolt, thwarted vault, late brake,
gasp of impact, temblor of thud—
the beast drops on the blade of hood,
ribs rip from their roots, hearts seize,
the windshield goes dark as an eyelid
curtaining to a horizon of blood,
black glass laced with lightning—

I am hit with wheel, steel, doe
embracing me backward as speed
crushes me forward into
a bursting hug, sternums to spines,

past last words,
no extra second to
follow the plan to tell
God I am sorry, no foxhole repentance,
no appeal to the fate-maker,
my sentence incomplete, a
fragment, a run-on,

no scenes spun out so fast
that the brain convulses with
conclusion and love—

I do not even think of you,
give no torn word for
you to live by—

I mesh corpse into carcass,
I am dead, dear,
I leave you my velocity
and there at the edge of the road
I give you my fawn.


Birthday Wish

The dog doesn’t know he’s a dog
though he knows all he needs
to know to be a dog.
That tree over there, the one
with two branches conducting
green music, can’t spell
chlorophyll, or chill.
It does not bark like a dog.
The tree knows to shed its coat
when autumn comes, and
the dog senses he sheds
his fur in spring,
such contrary seasons
unconscious of being seasons
or seasons passing, just as
the dog won’t know when
he’s not a dog, and
the maple won’t comprehend
the hatchet coming,
or the rot, or fire.
May I, like the dog, the tree,
their limbs, their bark,
their barklessness,
the coming fall, the fire,
the hatchet, and the rot,
know only what I need to be.


After a Time I Touch My Husband

I don’t mean to stroke him but I find I do,
the gesture of comfort abruptly rogue.
I run my hand down his pec, that warm stone,
take in the tang of his long day’s skin.
A craving kindles in me, unwilling tinder,
a whiff of our first day, or maybe our second,
before we cut our paths inside each other,
as if a shudder of lightning strikes
in a junkyard, and in the years’ debris
ignition flickers and fire flares,
fire become that tired desire that flames
up to the crotches of trees and sears them,
and wind arrives and disperses the sparks
into civilization, strewing them on our roof.



Live in Suspense is published by Trio House Press. You can check it out here:



To find out more about David Groff, you can check him out here:


David Groff

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