paper • 122 pages • 17.95
ISBN: 978-1-954245-80-8
eISBN: 978-1-954245-81-5
March 2024 • Poetry

Is There Room for Another Horse on Your Horse Ranch? 

Cyrus Cassells

Cyrus Cassells has perfected a poetics of merciful vitality and tenderness, celebrating eros – in his daring and prolific representation of lust, yes, but more broadly in his understanding of the erotic as an affirmation and preservation of life – through time and space. Beginning his latest collection with the piece “You Be the Dancer,” he bids us return to sacred sites of nostalgia, insisting on it “whether we’re feeling frisky, / Empty-handed, / Or still beguiled by inchoate dreams-.” Is There Room for Another Horse on Your Horse Ranch? is the apotheosis of Cassells’s work to elevate the mundane and the bodily to the exalted, his vigorous lyrics a routine ecstasy. Though our senses lay us bare to suffering, they also create the possibilities for pleasure and connection, the basis of – and rewards for – humanity. “My Only Bible,” Cassells pledges, “is this blood-red joy / Of breathing beside you,” “The gospel of bougainvillea / At your boyhood gate” which perfumes “the soul’s endless, luxuriant / Coming and becoming…” Gorgeous and wry in its portrayal of transformational romance and queer selfhood, Cassells’s ninth book of poetry reads as an anthology of love letters to people and places across the world. Cassells revises an old premise: is it better to have loved than lost, or is that love, once bestowed, is never lost? A champion of the flight real intimacy requires of us, Cassells addresses a beloved, “You’ve just died in my arms / But suddenly it seems we’re eternal,” the joie de vivre and bravery of his perseverance made immortal through the poem’s titular declaration – “I Believe Icarus Was not Failing as He Fell.” If in these pages you see the crash, the poet seems to say, remember the flying, too, “the giddy Argonauts we were.”

“I Believe Icarus Was Not Failing as He Fell”

You’ve just died in my arms,
But suddenly it seems we’re eternal

Cali boys, Afro-haired cohorts in crime, 
Racing through intricate lattices

Of quince and lemon tree shadows, 
Corridors of Queen Anne’s lace—

On the skip-church Sunday you dubbed me 
“Sir Serious” instead of Cyrus—

Then, swift as a deer’s leap, we’re devotees 
Of goatees and showy Guatemalan shirts,

Intoxicated lovers for a month
On the northwest coast of Spain—

Praising the irrepressible sounds 
Of a crusty Galician bagpiper

On La Coruña’s gripping finisterre, 
Then gossiping and climbing

(Like the giddy Argonauts we were) 
The lofty, ancient Roman lighthouse,

All the way—Keep on truckin’, we sang— 
To the top of the Tower of Hercules—

Praise from Richie Hofmann
Praise from Lauren K. Alleyne
Praise from Tommye Blount
Praise from Virginia Konchan

The passionate, sun-drenched poems of Cyrus Cassells’s Is There Room for Another Horse on Your Horse Ranch? invite us into well rendered worlds of love, lust, and beauty. Though he writes in American English, Cassells is a European poet; though he writes in our time, Cassells is a nineteenth-century Romantic poet. Who else could write work so unapologetic in its appetites, so sexy and urbane at the same time? Here we see him at his best-brazen, erotic, confident, and full of verve. In this brilliant collection, Cassells is the “artful, persistent dreamer,” and reading his poems, we become one, too.

—Richie Hofmann, Author of A Hundred Lovers

Cyrus Cassells’s newest collection is a sensory and emotional ecstasy. These poems form a melodic, earthy, and vibrant orchestra, each one keenly tuned to a particular resonance of rapture or grief. Cassells enlists the heart, the body, various landscapes and geographies-from olive groves to oceans-as accompaniments, no, accomplices, to journeys through “the blood-red joy / of breathing.” Here is the music of defiant, delightful aliveness inviting us again and again into the being of our humanity, that reaches out to us-“you be the dancer.”

—Lauren K. Alleyne, Author of Difficult Fruit and Honeyfish and Executive Director, Furious Flower Poetry Center

Cyrus Cassells’s latest book best articulates a hunch I’ve always believed. In this collection, grief and desire are “cohorts in crime.” Through the mythic, ritualistic, and the pastoral; by way of transformation and transmogrification; under the aegis of Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, Federico García Lorca, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Hammer Horror, Batman, and French New Wave cinema, Cassells has built not simply a collection but an altar in praise of Longing and its pas de deux with long-legged Time-in the end, that greatest of heartbreakers.

—Tommye Blount, Author of Fantasia for the Man in Blue

Sparks fly, empires fall, and mandolins sing in this transatlantic gospel of seduction, as we follow the poet through bamboo labyrinths and secret caves into the arms of the Beloved, in an unforgettable lieder cycle of praise. We are all invited to celebrate in this cosmopolitan journey of the “getaway soul,” wherein Cassells risks, and achieves, the impossible: a Western romance that ends not in death, but passion, rebirth, and redemption.

—Virginia Konchan, Author of Bel Canto