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The Man With Many Pens cover

paper • 76 pages • 15.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-935536-63-5

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The Man with Many Pens

Jonathan Wells

The Man with Many Pens is about love—“a love that smells so much like blood”—and song—“a song that the oak leaves will not finish.” These poems examine how a single love or a single song contains multiple personalities and contradictory forces, tensions and concordances. Beneath those poems such as “The Man with Many Pens,” “The Six-Armed Musician” and others that display the multiple complex emotions of love, there is a more naked, personal narrative.

“Love’s Body”, from The Man with Many Pens:

Love gives all its reasons
as if they were terms for peace.
Love is this but not that
that but not this.
Love as it always was.

But there is no peace in the mountain
cleft where the fruit bats scatter
from the light.
There is no peace in the hollow
when heat snuffs night's blue candle. 

The outline of brown leaves 
on the beach is the wind's body. 

A crow is squawking at the sun 
and the screech itself is dawn. 
Let me hear every perfect note. 
How I loved that jasper morning.

About the Author


  • "In Jonathan Wells's new book, love has as many arms as Shiva. Limitless, transcending, unchanging and protean, the poems capture the energy of Eros for both its terror and tenderness. Luckily for us, Wells has the formal discipline and restraint to control such a whirlwind. This is a terrific book, serious, bemused, generous, revealing the most complicated facets of our human connections." --Erin Belieu
  • "In this eloquent book of poems, Jonathan Wells meditates on the vast interconnectedness of personal relationships, discovering human unities beneath the surfaces of our complex and varied experiences of love, mortality, and poetry. Meditative, intimate, and precise, Wells finds insight in such surprising places, 'a yardman's / mitt open-fisted on a post like an owl's glower,' the way the ankles of wading deer 'split the river into twelve new streams.' The Man with Many Pens is a musically rich and moving collection, one I will return to with pleasure." --Kevin Prufer
  • "I admire the directness of the writing, the plain style pushing the boundaries of the strange, what the Beowulf poet calls 'the wyrd'....The quality of direct observation in the poems verifies the style, and gives the subjects real gravitas." --Tom Sleigh
  • "Each poem carries its own loss without melancholy. (Good Night) '…My metal fingers/ drifted toward her who’d slept/ beside me until the final frame.' And there’s a poem of sharp brilliance not equaled since Stanley Kunitz wrote of his father’s picture in 'Self-Portrait' '…She ripped it into shreds without a single word and slapped me hard. I/ in my sixty-fourth year can feel my cheek still burning.'" Read the full review.

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