When I Don’t Know What to Call This

Stephen Kampa

      Flowers I can’t name   bloom in a pink profusion       namelessly complete—if I say petal, what else have I done       but make each one one   and the same by giving them       one name? Flowering,the tree itself has said it all already,       more eloquently,   the way our days together—       moment by moment—once said themselves as perfectly as one       could ever wish time   to be said. That time now gone       without our havingdiscovered what to term this time apart—       minutes prolific   as leaf after greeny leaf—       I must come to trustthese days will say themselves as certainly       as petal or stem,   and that on some unknown one       soon, we’ll find ourselvesdaydreaming in the fallen ring of them.

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Stephen  Kampa

Stephen Kampa was born in Missoula, Montana, and raised in Daytona Beach, Florida. His previous books are Cracks in the Invisible (Ohio University Press, 2011), which won the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and the Gold Medal in Poetry from the Florida Book Awards, and Bachelor Pad (Waywiser, 2014). His session work can be heard on Robert “Top” Thomas’s The Town Crier (WildRoot Records) and Victor Wainwright’s Boom Town (Blind Pig Records). He teaches at Flagler College.

“What first impresses and finally astounds in Stephen Kampa’s new collection is the unflagging richness of his invention and virtuosity of his execution, the way in which technical precision allows him to speak to us in an amazing variety of registers. We are privy to existential dilemmas and prone to collapsing in helpless laughter, sometimes on the same page. As was said of Ovid, Stephen does not know when to stop. Good for him and good for us.”
—Charles Martin

“Stephen Kampa’s latest collection moves crisply between registers, sounding out ‘the revelations / of rhythm’ by which a man measures his life. Whether his subject is a tropical cyclone or an overflowing toilet, Kampa renders it with precision and wit, and each poem’s intricate architecture expands or contracts to suit the occasion. Elegant, wise, and resolutely tender, these are songs of experience, and Stephen Kampa is a masterful singer.”
—Caki Wilkinson

“Stephen Kampa’s poems can ‘count the seconds, click by weighted click, / As though they were the tumblers to a safe,’ until what has been locked away in darkness—the musings of our moral and ethical lives—is revealed. His classically poised verses make a winningly modern music, and his recurring themes (also classical!) of lust and booze, culture shocks and attenuated verities have never been fresher.”
—David Yezzi

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