The poems in John Pleimann's Come Shivering to Collect live and move and have their being in a world that is both twilit and sacred. Speakers wrestle with memory's power to obsess and distort, to haunt, and to evoke. They discover that life mocks happiness, and the only thing sacred is to be vulnerable.
The voices in these poems look for salvation in the seasonal aisle at Walgreens, in stray dogs that never come home, in the destitute and downtrodden, in the dead, who--in T.S. Eliot's words--seem stuck in a "time of tension between dying and birth."
Belief in the power of words to heal--and a profound fear for what they veil--propel these poems. As one persona says: "What don't need no grammar saves you."
The speakers here muse on what words are after, as if they have lives of their own: "There's nothing words can't keep from you, no emptiness / around you words can't flesh out. . . ." What's the poet to do who suspects words know more than he does, that words follow him, hollow him, and fill in what he lacks?
These poems reveal that we are words on our knees "come shivering to collect."