Days of Our Lives

Joan Aleshire

Emptied womb, empty mind,empty heart: it was easy to losemyself those weekday afternoonswith the turn of a knob, to losemy life in those other liveson the small bright screenwhere someone crashedher car, had a brain tumor,took the wrong call, wrong turn,"As the World Turns," those"Days of Our Lives,""The Guiding Light" failingto guide them for fifteen–minutesegments of betrayal, falseaccusation, addiction, fraudand delusion. Glossy as theirhouses, hair and make–up were,those characters were me,those hours till school pick–up,when my only joy would breakfrom the line of other childrenwaving her artwork to greet me.

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Joan Aleshire was a member of the Warren Wilson MFA poetry faculty from 1983 through 2013. Days of Our Lives (Four Way Books, September 2019) is her sixth book of poetry; she has also published essays and translations, in addition to Cloud Train (Texas Tech Press, 1982) and This Far (Quarterly Review of Literature, 1987). She lives in Vermont, where she is a library trustee and the founder of SAGE, an organization that supports sustainable agricultural education and the arts. She is at work on a novel.

“Joan Aleshire’s absorbing memoir in poems reminds us that truth requires modesty, precision, and vision unclouded by ego. Her unfailing candor offers the everyday as the only day, where love and its betrayals unfold, and where, with the skillful composure and narrative drive of a seasoned poet’s telling, she parallels the slow erosion of a marriage with the disenchantment of a generation—and does it with tact and insight, and, most wonderfully, without blame or regret.”
—Eleanor Wilner

“Most poets choose: navigate the personal or navigate the public. In Days of Our Lives, Aleshire abandons the choice. Instead, opts for the gospel that is all the ways our private turns at living are never as private as we imagine. As if, all of it, our love and the nation’s loss, hang by the thinnest of wires.”
—Reginald Dwayne Betts

“The fearless and often unsparing poems of Joan Aleshire’s Days of Our Lives take as their subject the vital interfusion of personal and social history before, during, and in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Like Anna Akhmatova her aesthetic and spiritual exemplar, Aleshire trusts the world as felt and experienced, however grievously, perilously, or joyously, and with no embellishment—only her remarkable eye for the exacting detail, the vital image, the truthful portrait, and her impeccable ear that combines as though effortlessly lyric urgency with narrative furtherance. Like the prints laid across a table in one moving poem, ‘gathered there, the broken / and the lost, hoping to be mended / or found or soothed,’ the lives rendered in Aleshire’s book come to the reader with all of their flaws flawlessly transfigured into art.”
—Daniel Tobin

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