Hour of the Green Light begins in the womb at the moment when the soul chooses to leave paradise, and explores the aftermath of that choice. A bike ride in Central Park, laundry, climate change, a rodeo, and the threat of invasive chipmunks provide a few of the settings for this inquiry into love, work, self, and death. The quest for “an end to suffering” pervades the collection. A practiced poet, Ruekberg clothes his observations in cadences and images that are at once unique and inviting. Despite our perception of darkness in this life, these poems urge us to discover “the only light we can know.”
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Praise for Hour of the Green Light
An authentic, courageous heart unveils the ineffable within the quotidian in Hour of the Green Light. Through the imagined before of pre-birth, to childhood, marriage, family, even the annoyance of squirrels, towards death’s “land beyond the bounds,” these probing poems hold true to a Keatsian negative capability. Readers will find no “irritable reaching after fact and reason” here; this is a poet skilled in the syntax of sentience, enamored with both the mysterious idiosyncrasies of waking life and the phantom itch that can’t be scratched. Though we “wear the twilight / of this world, a conflagration / of mirrors in water and stone,” Ruekberg concludes “Nothing that’s alive wants to be anything else.” These sculpted poems polish the dull world to a vital shine.
Living in both lift and gravity, these poems pull us toward the green light—that longing for reunion with our most original self. Offered “with hands of fire,” they make a way toward illumination. Despite “messengers of intense sensation” they seek an antidote for ache, “some silent healer / working behind the scenes.” Encountering “silence and an answer” in “the deepest hole we ever made,” grass becomes a galaxy, and all of us, strangers here, find a way home to “a world outside time.”
—Charlie Coté, author of I Play His Red Guitar (Tiger Bark Press)
How do we live knowing we’ll never regain our original wholeness, our full capacity to love? In poems that are at once tender, wry, and bracingly honest, Ruekberg confronts this question. “All I’ve ever wanted / is to want,” his speaker answers. Whether it’s pruning hostas, tending a marriage, or ruing the late Anthropocene, he shows us what it means to love the flawed world as a citizen within it. Though we can’t fix it, “for now there’s this work, / these small strokes,” which might be “the only light we can know.”
Thanks to the following journals in which these poems first appeared:
- Barrow Street: “October Prayer,” “Want”
- Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review: “Solve for x” and “While Waiting for the Report”
- Cimarron Review: “Delivery,” “Cure for Thought”
- Dime Show Review: “Brief History”
- DMQ Review: “Work”
- Eunoia Review: “Night Walk” and “To Be”
- Lake Effect: “The Questions”
- Rust+Moth: “Documentary“
- Slush Pile Magazine: “Calendar”
“After Easter” (entitled “Christmas Eve,”) and “Looking Out” first appeared in Another and Another: An Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series, edited by Matthew Olzmann and Ross White.
Cover: “Pleiades Cluster [M45]” by NASA, JPL-Caltech