Lily Poetry Review: The Acute Avian Heart by Joey Gould

Praise for The Acute Avian Heart

The poems in The Acute Avian Heart present to the reader a searing, yet conversational look at the inside of a fine poetic mind—one sharp & ready for the world & all of its bounty of nuance. It takes an astute & careful poet to create a landscape that not only holds many truths but also enacts the co-existence of said truths using form, song, units of sound. & perhaps the most startling & poignant aspect of this collection is that it does not shy away from harsh realities, but rather, invites the reader into them, shows facets softened with wisdom & praise, shot through with love. Not the kind of love we like to reduce to one or two probabilities, but an infinite love, a nearly-ecstatic love: “It tastes like/genuine affection—not even love, but sweet:/a still, low lake.” This collection is a brilliant one, from an emerging poet at the start of a supersonic career.

–July Westhale, author of Trailer Trash, Via Negativa, Occasionally Accurate Science, & Quantifiable Data


Mom looks small in the yard

with her tall thin rake sweeping

up the trees as they crumple

& I help her bag the stricken

giants’ guts. The day is chill—

as crisp as a glass of wine, nearly

bitter like anything savory—

so we’re locking up the world

for winter & then

there are boxes, always

more boxes of his stuff

to give or file or toss,

but at least she can be outside

that mess for a while longer,

trading the extinguished light

for the waning reds & oranges

of fall. Raking as a tribute—

collecting deaths, making them

seem containable.

About the Author

Joey is a long-time contributor to Mass Poetry, for which they assist the Poetry Festival Planning Committee, lead workshops for Student Day of Poetry events around Massachusetts, write web articles for, & judge slams for Louder Than a Bomb MA. Their work has appeared in Paper Nautilus, Drunk Monkeys, The Compassion Anthology, Memoir Mixtapes, & District Lit, amongst others. They have twice been nominated for Bettering American Poetry and once for a Pushcart Prize. Since their first public reading as a fellow of Salem State University’s Summer Poetry Seminar, they have performed in The Poetry Circus, Elle Villanelle’s Poetry Bordello, and The Poetry Society of New York’s Poetry Brothel. In addition to their Mass Poetry work, they have taught workshops for the Salem Poetry Seminar & Salem Lit Fest. They write 100-word reviews as poetry editor for Drunk Monkeys. Most important, they like Pusheen & painting their nails.

The Acute Avian Heart front cover[19587]

The Acute Avian Heart

The Acute Avian Heart by Joey Gould