gary duehr

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THE BIG BOOK OF WHY is available using PayPal or credit card. $9.95 plus $1.29 shipping. 56 pages, 7x4" pocket size.


Click here to view the first 20 pages of poetry



As Marx queried, What is to be done?

In poems that range from melancholic to mocking, THE BIG BOOK OF WHY tries to answer some of the 21st century's looming questions by rummaging through cultural detritus for clues.

Weighing in are a Detroit body-bagger, Robert DeNiro's housekeeper, and Adela Legaretta Rivas, "struck by a white Datsun one morning in April"—as well as a motley cast including hapless candidates, apartment dwellers, and aria-singing subway riders.




Between Parentheses

Does it all come down, at last,            
to slipping onto the subway            
before the doors shush closed    

or not?

To dropping by a bar            
for one last nightcap            
before the morning flight to Rome?
Or stumbling home instead?

Such minor divisions            
between this life and another

The width of a bullet
A hinge
The time it takes a glance            
to register            

or fall away undetected


The Body-Bagger's Lament

There are 360 ways to die            
in this dying city
And I've seen them all

The thing is how to get            
from where we are—not-dying,            
not yet, anyway—           
to that far place
It's a simple problem:            
the kind of complication            
people work through every day

Until one morning they're stumbled across            
in a weedy lot, pockets            
turned out
Or found standing there dead            
at a stove, purse            
still hanging from one elbow
Or shoveled up in pieces from the tracks

There: done
Problem solved, gap bridged
We are where we want to be:            
far away from here

Where it seems like eighty percent of us            
die naked
And another seventy percent            
die on the toilet
Which means, hypothetically,            
that most individuals            
will die naked on the toilet

Hard to fathom, but just            
ask Elvis