From the “basement / of that suburban church with its sad paint / job in Texas” to an old drag queen’s
“parlor,” “that bazaar of flounce, chintz, feathers,” Clean, the award-winning collection by David J.
Daniels, tears back the curtain of life to expose gorgeousness and grit. These poems pay homage to the
addict, the grandmother, the closeted, and the lover, to the dead, the dying, and the living who refuse to
“Glory Hole,” from Clean:
Those lepers must’ve wept like drama queens
When Francis opened up his robes to show
Where he was likewise bleeding. I would’ve wept.
Haven’t I wept over men whose bodies bore
No miracles? And posed for them, entranced,
Through bathroom stalls? Haven’t I always posed
“To reclaim brokenness as a state of necessity and grace, David J. Daniels goes in search of the missing, the disgraced, the criminal…lives that seem least likely to be celebrated in poetry. Daniels lifts the world onto his shoulders in his poems. Clean is his book of life, there is no one who is not redeemed.” – D. A. Powell, judge
“The poems’ structures highlight the tension between the strictures of society and those who slip through its cracks, between the ravages of flesh and a spirit that persists. In ‘Public Indecency,’ a statue’s smile goes ‘grim / the more the sculptor repositioned him,’ but Daniels carefully chiseled poems never lack energy or unadulterated auditory pleasure. In ‘Hurricane David,’ (‘Both bird / and burial, you rolled // from the pink-flamingoed sprawl / of white America into the immigrant citrus // bungalows below…’) the lines surge down the page like the storm itself. As Daniels notes, ‘the Lord pronounced to Noah after the flood that ‘on earth / every living thing shall be your meat.’’ Daniels makes not only a meal of it all—the clean and unclean alike—but a music.” Read the full review.